Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Love With Skin On It
"Aren't you glad to know that Jesus loves you?"
"Yes, I'm glad to know that Jesus loves me, but sometimes I want to know love with skin on it."
This exchange happened between an American and an orphan in Kenya.
Love with skin on it. That child wasn't the first to think of that concept. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.
Love became flesh.
The past year and a half I have been living in a love that makes me -- mostly, yet not always entirely -- unafraid to lose. Recently, though, He has been nudging me into a realm that is not only unafraid to lose, but voluntarily sacrificial.
He knows this well. I will know Him there. I wonder what I am about to know -- really know -- of Him. Jesus. He has scars. Those precious feet...I can't stop thinking about them. So I will live bent low and grab hold of His feet and veer into the scars that were born of love for you and for me.
"Not many people love sacrificially without having to," said a beautiful and recently acquainted friend of mine. It resounded within me.
In Turkey, He sparked something in me that I hope remains as long as this heart beats inside this flesh. In everything, I want to expect to die and expect to raise the dead.
Expect to die. If I am expecting to die, I won't hold back in the ways that I let Him love through me. It will be free and sacrificial. Hopeful, because the Kingdom is at hand.
Expect to raise the dead. If I am expecting for the dead to come out of their graves (physically or spiritually), I will always (need to) be dependent and fixated on the glory of His resurrection power. His is the power above all powers. Praise and triumphant joy are certain side effects of that.
Do you see the love laced throughout both of those hopes?
He is love. He came as love with skin on it so that very skin could be pierced through and ripped from His body. I have so much more to learn of love -- of Him, and how He loved me, and how He loves me every day. I sort of feel like a sponge. I soak in His love and wring it back out. I absorb it to know Him and I pray that it may drench the world with the same awe-inspiring power that has so enamored me.
A friend of mine has been praying this, and now I am too:
"Holy Spirit, lead us into such radical intimacy that it shakes and heals the earth."
The way I see Him is unspeakably captivating and irresistibly alluring. He gave Himself up.
He gave Himself up. There are three verses in the NASB that have that exact phrase. Each of them follow some form of the word "love."
Galatians 2:20 - ...the Son of God...loved me and gave Himself up for me.
Ephesians 5:1-2 - Be imitators of God as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.
Ephesians 5:25-26 - Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of the water with the word.
In praying for India, I keep hearing "love." The passage in Ephesians 3:14-21 keeps coming to mind...understanding together how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, to know the love that surpasses knowledge that we may be filled up to the measure of all the fullness of God. That is amazing.
This is all a gathering of the thoughts He has been thinking loudly with my mind of Christ. I don't know what it is going to look like -- or feel like -- but I am so filled with joy and peace from the God of Hope. His grace gives me confidence that I will know His love even when I do not portray it. There is such freedom in living because He loves me instead of living in order to get Him to love me. I may not always love, but I will always be loved. He is relentless. I've been calling it "loving by faith": praying that those I come in contact with would be transformed by knowing more of His love, while being mindful that I am not a necessary element in that equation but giving myself up for it anyway.
Live loved, dear ones, live loved. Letting Him love you is the way to love Him, because He who loves His wife loves Himself. Those who are in Christ are an inseparable member of His body. It really is the best news ever.
Leaning in and living loved,