I woke up this morning to a vision, and what I kept seeing before me were flashes of Jesus’ life and his journey to the cross—and throughout the whole vision, I kept hearing the words “REAL LOVE.” Jesus’ life was a display, or example or real love.
I heard God telling me that there are many people in the world who have a SUPERFICIAL love. But real love is not superficial. It’s not something that should exist on the surface—appearing to be true or real only until examined more closely. Appearing to be true or real only until situations, trials or storms arise to show that it was never real.
Some people’s love is so superficial with so many conditions to it: I love you BECAUSE you look attractive. I love you BECAUSE you drive a nice car or have a nice house. I love you AS LONG AS you do not betray or reject me. I love you AS LONG AS you do not lie to me or steal from me. I love you UNTIL you gain weight. I love you UNTIL you lose your job. I love you IF you agree with me and take my side on everything. I love you IF you give me everything I want or feel as if I need. This is superficial love. It carries no true weight. It’s conditional. As soon as the condition changes, the love ceases, or dies out. Many people claim that they “fell out of love” but that’s only because they were never in love to begin with. Real love never fails. If the love was real, you wouldn’t fall out of it, you would grow in it.
Real love is UNRESERVED and UNCONDTIONAL. It shouldn’t be preconditioned or booked in advance. Real love is unqualified—the recipient shouldn’t have to say, be, or do anything to earn it. It should be extended freely. Real love is unlimited—it shouldn’t run out. Real love is wholehearted—it cares about others without any thought of what it might get out of the relationship for itself. Jesus loved and served those who could do nothing for him in return except show their gratitude. Jesus accepted and embraced the loveless—those who no one else wanted to show love to: the man with the legion of demons, the lepers, the tax collectors, the adulterous woman, the prostitutes, the unlearned, the poor and the sinners.
Usually, when you greet someone in passing, you say to them, “Hello! How are you doing?” For most people, it’s simply something that they say to comply with requirements of etiquette, regulations or custom. But most times, you don’t literally care to know how the person is actually doing. You expect the person to simply reply, “All is well, thanks for asking!” and then to go about their way. But if the person took your question to heart and began to open up and pour out to you about how they are really doing, you probably wouldn’t have the time or concern to sit down and listen to them explain or to help them find a possible solution if they are not doing so well. You shouldn’t ask a person how they are doing if you don’t really care to know. Likewise, saying “I love you” to someone shouldn’t be a FORMALITY. Saying “I love you” shouldn’t be something said routinely, ritually or ceremonially. It shouldn’t be something you say because you feel obligated to do so. It should be something that you say because you mean it from the heart. When you say “I love you” to somebody, they are going to expect you to demonstrate your love—Not only loving them in word or in speech, but in action and in truth.
Real love ENDURES with PATIENCE. It suffers patiently. It bears all things. Puts up with all things. Survives all things. Perseveres through all things. Remains steadfast through all things. It endures through the pain. It is able to tolerate delays, problems, or suffering without becoming annoyed or anxious. Real love endures past rejection. Peter denied Christ three times. Real love endures past betrayal. Judas betrayed Jesus and even stole money from him. Real love endures past slander. The Pharisees called Jesus a devil, a sinner, a blasphemer, a liar. Yet, Jesus’ love for them endured.
Real love is MARRIED TO THE BACKSLIDDER. Although Israel committed spiritual adultery and harlotry with surrounding nations and committed idolatry and worshipped false gods, Jesus still loved them and kept his everlasting covenant with them.
Real love is NAKED and BARE. Uncovered. Undisguised. Open. Evident. Apparent. Manifest. Exposed. The Jews cast lots for Jesus’ garments. He was stripped of his clothes and had to walk down a long path nearly naked. Jesus’ love didn’t try to cover up its nakedness.
Real love is VULNERABLE. It makes itself susceptible to physical or emotional attack or harm. It has no defense. It is open to be wounded. Jesus was scourged. He was beaten and whipped, but he willingly took the blows. He was mocked and blasphemed, but opened not his mouth. Jesus’ love took on abuse and it didn’t retaliate or try to defend itself.
Real love isn’t embarrassed or ashamed of showing PUBLIC DISPLAY OF AFFECTION (PDA). When Jesus laid his life down for us on Calvary, he was placed on a cross and lifted up high for all to see. His love was on public display.
Real love STRETCHES. It extends to its fullest length or ability. It goes out of its comfort zone. Jesus’ arms were stretched out wide when they were nailed to the cross.
Real love is UNCOMFORTABLE, which means it subjects itself to feeling slight pain or physical, unbearable discomfort. Love subjects itself to feeling at unease or awkward. Love isn’t always a relaxed feeling. When Jesus was on the cross, the way he was positioned, he could barely breathe, and whenever he would lift up his body to gasp for a breath of air, it hurt him. The love he displayed was suffocating. Very uncomfortable.
Love FORGIVES. It holds no record of wrong. It is not easily angered and doesn’t carry resentment toward someone for an offense or flaw. It does not blame others for a mistake made. Love excuses, pardons, or cancels out a debt. When Jesus was on the cross, he prayed to the Father, “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
Love is SACRIFICIAL. Giving up your own desires in order to fulfill the desires or needs of another person. Jesus’ sacrificed his throne and all of his glory in heaven to come down to earth and live life for 33 years in the likeness of man. His whole purpose in coming to earth was to sacrifice life in death, as a ransom for many. He died a death that we deserved just so that we could possess eternal life.
I hear God saying, “How many of you want [to possess] a love like that?”