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Interestingly enough, we live in a society, today, that will acknowledge value in one thing, yet actually pursue something else; people will admit that there’s a prestige and feeling of accomplishment that comes with owning a home, but many will still pursue renting as opposed to the process of buying. Maybe renting, in their minds, is more of an immediate thing, while the stages of buying require an attention to detail and an accountability most aren’t readily willing to undergo and submit themselves to. Short game vs. Long game. We seem to worship results: not good results, but the fact that we have results, period. That, my friends, feeds the flesh.
In a similar way, we’ve taken to treating GOD and people: we’ll acknowledge and recognize that there’s value in loving GOD, people, on HIS terms, but because of what those terms dictate and require, we’ll opt to actually like GOD, and others, on our terms. Gives us some semblance of control…calling the shots. We believe, or talk ourselves into believing, that we’re getting the same results, just quicker and more convenient to who we think we are and what we think we need or want. We don’t own a love or relationship with GOD and HIS creation; we’re renting one. No bueno.
Why does this matter?? Well, mostly because this idea of love that we, as people in general and CHRISTians specifically, are parading as the real deal is not. It’s a faux love. It looks good, but it’s not devoid of the strings and conditions that exist within its worldly counterpart. It’s extremely limited and looks nothing like JESUS, which is why, for the most part, we look nothing like JESUS. Adopting the LOVE that made HIM famous as our own is supposed to make individuals aware of our allegiance to HIS way of doing things (John 13:35). This love is also the key to experiencing the miraculous manifestations of GOD’s power (Matt.14:14, Gal.5:6), you know, the kind that changes lives. When we don’t see these things, it’s because that manufactured love, wrought full of additives and preservatives, is not the pure love that is a product of the process, one that roots out individual weeds and needs and prioritizes what matters to GOD. Renting love has NOTHING on owning it.
How can we tell we’re renting and not owning? While the differences will inevitably come out in actions taken or not, one of the adult tells is actually quite simple. A generic love says, “Love you.” A love that has bought in and surrendered to and through the process says, “I love you”. Notice how adding the “I” to the phrase takes on a whole nother tone? It’s ownership. It’s accountability. It’s vulnerability. Now, unfortunately, too many of us believe that an “I love you”, especially coming from the opposite sex, has underlying motives or romantic connotations; what if it just meant that this person on the other end is adult enough in their faith that they are willing to be intentional in what they offer? After all, it’s this type of maturity that GOD desires we grow into (1 Cor.13:11). “Love you” is for everybody; “I love you” is for grown ups.
It’s not an accident or coincidence that the streets don’t feel the love from the church: we’ve waited for them to come to us, already like us, rather than getting up and going, as commissioned, and loving them through the process of becoming (2 Cor.5:17). It’s unfortunate. Apathy and desensitization have encouraged us to believe that a generic, lukewarm love is not only enough to make it through this life, but enough to grant us access to where we want to be in the next. Many of us will be sadly mistaken.
Ultimately, it would be great if we all got to a point where simply having somewhere to live wasn’t enough; where we’d want our own and were willing to endure whatever and fight to have something that would be our ours. Similarly, having a love that’s self-serving, a sort of “love-for-hire”, isn’t actually love, at all. Renting a relationship with GOD isn’t going to bring the benefits we think we are entitled to. I mean, even JESUS isn’t interested giving away benefits without commitment, and Salvation (relationship with GOD through JESUS) has some MAJOR benefits. Commit. Buy. Pay what you have to. Purchase. Own it. Put an “I” in front of your love for GOD and everyone else. After all, ownership has its privileges.
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