On a Sunday morning church service, we sang an ordinary song that we have sung many, many times before.
However, on this particular morning, a certain phrase stood out to me.
It made me think and made my heart sink a little – even though it was intended to be an uplifting, unifying song.
Translated into English:
The love that I give to you, the love that I give to you…
It is the love that the Lord gives to me.
Everyone stands up and sings together- some with overwhelming joy, others half falling asleep, and most not really thinking about what they are singing, because let’s face it- we’ve been singing this song for years and we kind of just know the song by heart. It’s pretty, it’s music, it’s worship…
But do our lives manifest this worship? Do our lives truly show this God-given love?
Can the love I give and show to my sister, brother, best friend, significant other, parents, relatives, strangers, etc. truly be the same love that the Lord gives to me?
Is the love that I give to others as consistent, unconditional, and accepting as the love that God has given and shown to me?
My heart sunk a little because my personal answer to these questions was: No, no, no, and no.
Here was I, professing my love towards others in front of people who are my brothers and sisters in Christ, and in front of God himself by singing the words to this beautiful song.
But in my life, I was giving the kind of love that I have been a recipient of. I was loving individuals because they loved me and loving them in the same way they had been loving me.
To put it rather crassly, love had become something like a market transaction – you give me this kind of love, and I’ll give the same love back to you, penny for penny.
So, not only do we “accept the love we think we deserve” (as Stephen Chbosky writes in The Perks of Being a Wallflower)
But, we give the love we think we have been given by others.
And that’s not what God commands us to do. He tells us to love, because He has loved us.
He does not tell us to only love those who love us.
God does not tell us to love the way our parents taught us, the way our friends taught us, the way the world has taught us…for human love is bound to falter and this world is full of so much hatred.
No, God tells us to give others the love that He has given to us.
This song has become more than words and music.
This song has become a dare, a challenge, a teacher.
It directly attacked me and the relationships I am in the process of building, rebuilding, and maintaining.
It made me rethink the love I give to others and what I base it on,
It made me face my own issues, and it has encouraged me to learn to love others with the love that God has shown me.