- If we love only until it costs us something, our love is fickle and shallow. If we love only until we’re required to sacrifice something, our love will rarely inspire. A love without self-denial is conditional love, and conditional love is the love Christ specifically called us to move beyond.
- When we focus too much on dating, marriage, and family in our communities – directing our efforts toward “successful” marriages and families, often defined in cultural terms – we risk missing out on the power of Christ’s love, which transcends culture. To acknowledge this isn’t to say that we shouldn’t be romantic, get married, or have families, but only that we should remember that Christ called us to imitate His love first and that His love might require a dramatic re-rendering of the way we approach it on our own.
- The world’s love – whether in friendships or romantic relationships – is usually founded on an assessment of who will love us in return. When a significant other treats us poorly enough, we end the relationship. When a friend neglects us, we resent him or her and return the neglect. When our family does not appreciate us, we withdraw. Unless our love has been transformed, we keep track of the love we receive or don’t receive from others, filling our hearts with crumbled ledger receipts. Christ, meanwhile, calls us to more. He asks us to lend and expect nothing in return.
- The spouse hunt is often largely a determination of who will love us in return, and/or who will meet a set of criteria we think will make us happy. We seek out those we enjoy; we pass out those we don’t. When things sour in our relationships – which is often related to the feeling that we aren’t being loved in return – we retreat. When looking for a spouse, we scrutinize traits that deliver us delight and avoid the ones that drag us down. We’re looking for love with a return on investment. This might sound harmless or just part of the way things are, but when these habits become a primary force in our lives, they become deeply harmful and dangerous to a Christian vision of life. If selectiveness trumps love, the breadth of Christ’s love gets jammed into the world’s mold, stunted and cramped until it fits romantic ideal.
- The love of Christ surmounts our fickleness and brings us into the challenge of loving truthfully through hardship or disappointment. If Christ is the vision, a husband doesn’t condition his love on what his wife can offer, and a wife doesn’t condition kindness on whether the husband lives up to her expectations. Our relationships become a vehicle through which we learn to love like Christ.
Those are a few of my favorite lines from “Altared”. The book has so much more so I hope you’ll buy one, but remember – you have been warned. It is a dangerous book; it will make you benefit less, it will prune you, it will hurt you. But it will make you look more like Christ 🙂 Remember, #chooseLove. Because Love is God’s greatest command.