Someone I used to know is going through a rather public break up at the moment. I’m not in the habit of keeping up with random people’s love lives, but with the constant barrage of status updates popping up on my facebook feed, it’s hard not to notice.
But what really caught my eye, (as sad as it is to hear that someone’s heartbroken), was a comment someone made about the whole situation and it was this:
“Never make someone a priority in your life if you’re only an option in theirs.”
And it got me thinking – what if that’s exactly what we’re supposed to do? Now there’s food for thought.
True Love, What’s That?
Being that it’s Valentine’s Day (or Single’s Awareness Day as some like to call it), I’m pretty sure most people will hear the words “true love” and immediately think of romantic relationships, falling in love and the like. And while those aren’t necessarily wrong associations with the term, I’m also of the opinion that there’s a lot more to it than that.
When I saw the above comment the other day, it saddened me because I think it’s a symptom of a larger problem and it is this – we as a society have grown inherently self-serving and selfish. And in doing so, I think we’ve lost sight of what love looks like, what it means, and what it is.
Church, We Have a Problem
If I’m being perfectly honest with you, I hate that most, if not all churches today have a divorce recovery program. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s good to help adults and children heal from the trauma of a family being torn apart, but that’s just it, isn’t it? This shouldn’t be happening. We as Christians, shouldn’t have a divorce rate equal to or slightly higher than the rest of society. We’re supposed to know how to love, and how to love for a lifetime.
“Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” – 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
If you’ve been Christian for any length of time, then you’ll probably be familiar with this Bible passage. It is after all, the famous love chapter. And even though you’ve most likely read and/or heard it a thousand times already, today I urge you to read it again, pause and let it sink it.
Getting Our Priorities Straight
The danger about statements like making people a priority only if you’re one in theirs is that it presents a love that is conditional. I will only care until the emotions fade away, or as long as you don’t do anything to make me mad. And the reality is, that couldn’t be further from what Jesus was about.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned as a young campus minister, having labored on a college campus for the better part of 6 years, it is this: People are broken. They come with messy histories and sometimes they’re not entirely pleasant to be around. But they deserve to be loved all the same, and yes my fellow Jesus freaks, it must begin with us.
Why us? Because we serve a God who loved us so much He gave His only son to die on a cross so that we might be free from sin. Because we serve a Christ who when He was merely an option, chose to make all of us a priority so that we could have eternal life. Because before we could ever love, He first loved us.
So today amidst all the frilly Valentine’s Day cards and chocolates and flowers, ask yourself, who’s around me that God wants me to love? And how can I show them love? Maybe it’s bringing an extra cup of coffee with you to class, or inviting the quiet kid to lunch. Maybe it’s thanking your professor for teaching, or writing your boss any encouraging note. Or maybe it’s just smiling at the stranger walking past you who needs to see a friendly face.
Whatever it is, take time out to show love. And don’t just do it today. Do it everyday. Blessings to you always, and wishing you a Happy Valentine’s Day.
Kimberly Chung is the National Media Director for Campus Renewal Ministries, a ministry focused on forging partnerships in prayer to build missional communities that transform college campuses with the gospel of Jesus. She is a campus minister to The University of Texas at Austin and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org