UPSIDE DOWN LOVE
You guys know this one. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
But, I wonder, do you know about John?
As I’ve studied more about the Bible, I’ve learned more about John. (I usually relate more to the disciple Peter—the one who spoke boldly, but then would waver and screw up—I totally relate to that.) But this John refers to himself as “the disciple who Jesus loved.”
Why don’t I relate to that more? Why don’t all of us relate to that more?
It’s the statue in Old Town Scottsdale that my fiancé and I took our engagement photos around.
It’s what we promised to do “until death do us part.”
It’s on the coffee mug that I bought for him on our three year anniversary.
And he loved that coffee mug.
So much so, that he uses it every day.
Little did I know that it couldn’t go in the dishwasher…and my husband is really busy in the morning: up at 4 am, out the door by 6 am, back home at 6 pm to grade papers. He’s a teacher, so he often doesn’t have time to wash the dishes in the sink.
And that irritates me. Every day.
I mean, how much effort does it take to wash that mug? Obviously, too much for him.
So, every day, that LOVE cup sits there and talks to me from the sink, “Remember that fight where you were wrong? And he forgave you even before you admitted you were wrong?” It urges, “WASH ME.”
Then there’s this other voice that speaks up, “JEEZ— it’s your day off—didn’t he even think you might want to do nothing today?”
Back and forth. Two opposing voices. One on each shoulder battling it out over LOVE inside me
But something is happening.
“In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind.” Job 12:10
I was walking and talking with a friend about an exquisite (and very expensive!) piece of art that she and her husband had both admired and then decided to “splurge” and to purchase. Having this piece for their very own would allow them to be enchanted by it on a daily basis. But it was like she had to justify it to me.
“It’s really spectacular. But beyond that, the artist is a genuinely nice guy. He has helped me when I was hurting, encouraged me when I was struggling, and he’s been there for me in so many ways,” she explained. “I love this piece we bought. It represents so much. I already loved it and because I know the creator of it, it makes me love it even more!”
I have been struggling with some defensive, gossip-y, and often down-right mean individuals with whom I share an office building. There are times when I walk in the room and suddenly they hush up. Hmm…
Other times, I’ve overheard the complaining and back-talking about others in the workplace and, yes, there are times when I get sucked into the talk.
It’s a slippery slope.
And once I get sucked in to the “conversation,” it is quite difficult to get out. Then I feel awful. I feel worse than I did when I believed it was me that was being talked about. This back and forth struggle of opposing forces in the world…Where’s the LOVE?
But something is happening.
“In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land.” Psalm 95: 4-5
I’ve been reading my Bible; studying the stories about the Creator of the universe.
“By the word of the LORD were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth.” NIV Psalm 33:6. “The LORD merely spoke, and the heavens were created. He breathed, and all the stars were born.”
It’s something to wrap your brain around—a Creator who can just exhale and out comes the Milky Way! And what’s cool is that the very same “star breathing” Creator also made you and me; breathing His breath into us as we are born.
And, as told to us beautifully by John, that same Creator loves us so much that he sent his one and only son, Jesus, to earth to show us what Love is.
The more I study, the more I read about this unconditional, faithful, immeasurable LOVE, the more I want of it!
John, the one who Jesus loved, tells us :
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”-John 15:13
And it gets even more crazy. This LOVE that Jesus teaches throughout the Bible in Luke 6:29 says, “If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them.”
And, ultimately, even more remarkable is the type of love discussed in Romans 5:8:
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
A true representation at the Cross: A love that died for the sinner that repented AND died for the one who didn’t.
The more I read, study, discover, ponder… something is happening to me…
I think my friend hit on this when she so wisely observed, because I know the creator, it makes me love even more.
On those days when I am exhausted and just want to do NOTHING, it urges me to not only wash the LOVE mug, but to do ALL the laundry, get to the grocery store, make lunches for the week and send him a text that I’m thinking of him and praying for his day…
But that’s my husband.
I can grasp the brotherly love; the parental type of love that would sacrifice one self for those you love. But to die for the ones who are asking for your shirt? Slapping your face? Betraying you? Disappointing you?
I’ve heard it said, “Those least deserving of our love, are the ones most needing of it.”
That’s upside down.
And yet, I am suddenly reminded of those times I listened to the “other voice.” The times I slid down the slippery slope and got involved in the gossip, and played a part in things that were UN-loving— No wonder I don’t associate myself as one who Jesus loved—do I deserve it?
“I am the thorn in your crown, but you love me anyway”-Sidewalk Prophets
And then I read about Jesus explaining why he took on flesh and came to the earth in Mathew, Mark and Luke–He said, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick.”
Those, like me, who struggle with those two opposing forces. Those, like me and Peter, those who keep screwing up.
A Savior was sent because we need saving!
I read about Jesus’s last moments on earth- nestled between those two thieves, listening to their voices. Two souls in opposition fighting it out.
He reconciled it for the repentant sinner who listened to the voice of LOVE.
AND He reconciled it for the one who rejected Him.
Jesus did it for the Johns and for the Peters.
For those who are well and for the sick.
For the you’s and the me’s.
Willing to die for every last one of us.
As he exhaled his last breath on earth, He loved.
Oh how I wish I could love like that.
But something is happening to me—The more I experience my Creator’s mercy toward me, the more I am moved to extend it to those I’m struggling with. But not on my own. Without my Helper, that kind of forgiveness or tolerance is much too difficult. But with Him, I don’t have to do it alone—He who is in me is much greater than me. He can do the things that I cannot.
I recall over my life, how my Creator has been there when I was hurting, I sense His LOVE and encouragement when I’m struggling, and I see His artwork all around me uplifting me and speaking to me in so many ways. I see it in my husband as he bears with me when I don’t wash his LOVE mug every day. And, as I allow my life to be turned upside down, He allows me to see the pain in those that have hurt me instead of myself.
As I learn more and more about the power of His LOVE, the more I Listen to the voice that says “WASH ME.”
The more of Him (and less of me!), the more His Upside down kind of LOVE is available in me—To be poured out to a hurting world from my own Love cup.
I want to know Him more.
And then I found out about Peter. That disciple that I relate to the most.
“According to Christian tradition, Peter was crucified in Rome under Emperor Nero Augustus Caesar. It is traditionally held that he was crucified upside down at his own request, since he saw himself unworthy to be crucified in the same way as Jesus.”-Wikipedia
A love so impactful it cannot help but completely turn everything upside down.
I see how this Upside down Love, proven at the Cross, is poured out on the World from The Creator’s Love cup.
And this love, His work of art accomplished at the Cross, although very expensive, (priceless really,) is available for us all to have for FREE, to be enchanted by it every day.
That’s upside down.