Endurance in Love

I had a conversation recently about whether or not people can change. A friend and I were on a road trip and we got to talking about a mutual friend of ours who had caused deep hurts in the lives of others around him. It was a conversation about weariness in loving someone and endurance in the face of great hurt, and I was trying to make a case that we live in a world where nothing is beyond redemption, and everyone can experience the sea change.

Everyone has experienced the frustration of a relationship that seems stuck so deep in harmful patterns that the hope of change begins to seem like a naive pipe-dream. In the hardest times of those relationships it is not difficult to find reasons to quit. There are hundreds of reasons to do so. This blog is about reasons not to, and how the gospel makes Christians people who are so radically for others that they endure.

I want to say two things:

1. Loving people in this fallen world with often mean seeing people as God intends them to be.

2. The Gospel makes us strong enough to pay the high cost of loving.

Hope seems naive because it looks at the world the way it is and acts to make it into something that it is not. It isn’t naive to believe that by acting in the light of a future hope you can become an agent of making that hope real, but you can hold that belief naively. Hope is not a mindset of rainbows and butterflies – hope is a fighting mindset, a stubborn refusal to act as though the world’s wounds belong. Christ, who came to save the sick, set the church on a course of costly love. He saw the world and everyone in it as God intends them to be, not simply as they are, and when he entered the sick world everything he did was in service of that hope of restoring it to health. But it cost him.

If that is the kind of love we are called to, then we will pay a cost too. The question then becomes, how can we pay it? The gospel makes us strong enough to pay the high cost of loving. In essence, it says that we are already rich. It says that every believer has already been given everything in Christ. I once heard a girl say that she wasn’t a Christian because she didn’t need a crutch, but the gospel doesn’t make you strong by letting you limp through life leaning on some sunny, harp-filled Heaven. It makes you strong because it says that at the heart of the universe is a God who knows your name and has already paid the cost of loving you and that love is making you into what God intended you to be. When that message really gets inside you it makes you bold. It makes you tough. You can suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune and absorb them. You can love when loving when it demands an impossible cost because your soul’s deepest needs have already been richly provided for and no one can ever take away that treasure. You can take risks because you have a greater security. You can act in hope because you can’t lose what you need most. She was right though, that kind of strength is a kind of weakness, but it is a weakness that makes you unbreakable.

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