Real Love

I’d like to preface this by confessing my lack of expertise in this area, but here goes.

I think true love doesn’t always look like it does in the movies.

It’s not as dramatic and there’s usually no orchestra playing a grand theme in the background when it happens.

There may or may not be butterflies and it may or may not happen in an instant, though I’m inclined to believe that the best of true loves happen gradually over time as friends realize that they are in love with each other.

Sometimes, I think people miss true love because they expect it to be like it is in those rom-com movies and in those Nicholas Sparks books and in all those love songs.

I’m not saying that movie-love never ever happens outside of the movies, but more that it isn’t the norm.

Love isn’t a feeling as much as it is an act of the will. A choice. A commitment to seek the welfare of the beloved regardless of whether you feel like it or not. And the feelings will come and go. You will probably fall in and out of love many times but you can always choose to love consistently through it all. Sometimes you have to act loving and do loving things before the loving feeling comes.

As I understand it, love isn’t easy. Love takes work. It takes dying to your own needs sometimes and putting the other’s needs above yours. It takes dying to your ways of doing things and your perceptions about how those things ought to be done.

I think it’s okay to watch those Hallmark movies or listen to those love songs as long as you don’t confuse them for reality. Real love isn’t as flowery or poetic but in the end, it’s something far more grand.

Never forget that real love led a Man to a Cross to be tortured and bleed and die for you and me. Real love said that no price was too high to win your heart. To win my heart.

That, my friends, is real love.

My two cents on spiritual warfare

A group of guys and I have been watching a DVD series on spiritual warfare by Chip Ingram called The Invisible War (and yes, that was a shameless plug). It got me thinking about the mindset of so many American believers (including me) regarding the whole topic of spiritual warfare. Plainly put, either most of us don’t believe there is an war going on with an enemy that is constantly seeking our destruction. If we believe, we sure don’t live like it much of the time. Again, me included.

The war is real. The enemy is real. In this world, we are not tourists on vacation, or passengers on some kind of luxury cruise, but soldiers engaged in battle. Our ignorance of the battle and our enemy can only do us harm. We need to wake up to realize that we are under attack. But here’s the best part.

The battle is already won. Chip Ingram said, “As believers in Christ, we don’t fight FOR victory. We fight FROM victory.” That’s the good news (which is why it’s called the gospel!). But there is still a battle.

We fight back by putting on the armor of God as described in Ephesians 6: the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit. We should pray these on every morning and pray these for each other on a daily basis. We should pray with eyes wide open to the spiritual realm, asking God to give us eyes to see the battle around us like the Elijah prayed for his servant when they were surrounded by the Syrian army. We should pray for discernment and wisdom. Most of all, we should pray at all times to be Spirit-filled and Spirit-controlled, taking every thought captive and submitting them to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

We must fight together. If you are fighting the enemy on your own, apart from other believers, you may succeed for a season, but you will ultimately grow weary and faint. You will stumble and fall. You need other believers praying God’s protection over you, encouraging you and keeping you honest.

We fight ultimately with one weapon– LOVE. Not as a feeling, but as a decisive act of the will. We fight by showing that Calvary’s love is stronger than hate and that love overcomes anything. Chip Ingram said, “Love is giving to another person what they need the most when they deserve it least.” Love is doing whatever you can, even to your own detriment, for the good of the beloved. It means dying to yourself and your rights and own ideas about how the world should work.

So live with eyes wide open, hands raised, side by side with your brothers and sisters in Christ. And remember that the battle is already won and that we have overcome!

As always, I believe. Help my unbelief.