You’ve heard the story about the chicken and the pig that walked by the house of a very poor man who couldn’t afford breakfast. The chicken suggested that they should, out of compassion for the man’s plight, help him out with breakfast. The pig replied, “That is fine for you to say. If we help him out, it will a contribution from you; but for me, it will be total commitment.” The pig wasn’t willing to risk because he had everything to lose. Bacon doesn’t come cheap if you’re a pig.
Christ has called us to risk. The apostle John writes, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” So love is risky and we are commanded to do both. But why the difficulty?
Love presupposes connection.
It is impossible to love in a vacuum. Loving someone means being so closely connected to them that what happens to them, in one sense, happens to you too. If I really love someone, when they cry, I ought to taste salt. If two men are on either end of a boat and there is a leak at one end, the other fellow can’t say, “Man, I’m glad that happened in your end of the boat and not my end. I’m safe.” People in boats together and people who love one another are connected.
I still remember when our daughters were growing up. Every parent knows the agony and feeling of helplessness when other children hurt your own child. My daughter’s first date made me as nervous as she was. When my children got their report cards, my hand trembled as they opened them. My bones hurt when my daughters fell off their new bikes. When they were born, I felt the labor pains with my wife, and I fainted when our oldest daughter was born.
Love presupposes connection…and connection presupposes hurt.
Love presupposes vulnerability.
When I used to counsel young couples thinking about getting married, I would tell them that they were entrusting each other with weapons of destruction. You see, in marriage, you learn things about your mate that no one else knows. You learn exactly where to stick the knife, how far in and in what direction to twist it. Because of that extent of vulnerability, a lot of couples essentially sign a suicide pact along with their marriage license.
Love means that you take off your armor. When you don’t have any armor, you can get killed.
Love presupposes loss.
Because nothing this side of heaven is permanent, we must face the reality of loss. A loss hurts in direct proportion to how much we love that which we lose.
When Prince Albert died, Queen Victoria was quoted as saying, “Now there is no one left to call me Victoria.”
I’m an old guy. I almost have more friends and loved ones in heaven than I do here on earth. My mother and father. My brother. One of my best friends. You would think I would be used to it by now. But I’m not. And if I were to ever get used to it, it would be a clear sign that I’ve stopped loving.
Love often leads to loss.
I once heard a bishop give a short analysis of the Good Samaritan. He said that the thieves who robbed the man had the basic philosophy of “What’s yours is mine and I will take it.” Those who walked by the robbed man without helping had the basic philosophy of “What’s mine is mine and you can’t have it.” But the Good Samaritan had the basic philosophy of “What’s mine is yours and you can have it if you need it.” That philosophy isn’t easy and it involves risk…but we can risk it.
So risk and love. God is in charge of everything. His safety net never fails. And if you belong to him, you have nothing—absolutely nothing—to lose by risking in love…except your chains.
Adapted from Steve’s book, If God is in Charge.