I used to believe I’d be remembered for my work.
Life is about relationships with people, not bits. What’s valued is availability, truly caring for those around you, and expecting nothing in return.
I’m being remembered for my love.
When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.
— 1 Corinthians 13:11 ESV
A year ago, someone great told me: “Do not love efficiently.”
What a thought! As an engineer, efficiency comes hardwired.
Loving inefficiently means caring for people when it feels like a waste of time, when it’s with someone outside of “my set”, when it’s someone I don’t understand and honestly don’t want to understand.
I recall this advice in places I’d typically keep to myself. Places like airplanes, coffee shops, and urban sidewalks. Neighbors, baristas, and solicitors.
My selfishness abrades at these attempts. But what is our legacy without love? What else is more important?
If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
— 1 Corinthians 13:3 ESV
These encounters are usually brief. Sometimes they’re awkward. But in engaging, I find myself challenged by the everyday opportunities to love others in this way:
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
— 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 ESV
This is hard. It can come easy, but it’s usually difficult. There are cycles of generosity followed by self-serving deceit.
I can’t love like this. These cycles reveal it: human nature is at odds with acting this way. We love for a day, then we fall short. We try not to envy, then find ourselves coveting. We are nice to people until we feel justified to retaliate. And how do we endure all things when we’re broken in the midst of disappointment?
Instead of making adjustments to what’s broken, my old self is being replaced.
1 Corinthians 13 describes the result of radical transformation.
This chapter of the Bible was written to show the fruits of a new life in Jesus, when we’re committed to Him as our Savior and have the Holy Spirit working within us.
There are days where I progress in love and days where I miss the mark.
I don’t understand everything about the Bible. I’m learning, but I don’t know it all. I will always be learning. But I know a few things for sure. I have admitted to myself and God that I can’t love like this alone. That I cannot be close to God merely by being a good person doing good things. That I believe God’s only son Jesus is the perfect sacrifice that allows God to transform our entire soul if we ask Him.
By this, I am accepted before I did anything to deserve acceptance. Adopted. Beloved. Out of this new identity, I am able to share this unconditional love with others. It’s the heart of Christianity.
“Teacher, which command in God’s Law is the most important?” Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.”
— Matthew 22:35-40 The Message
This scene is full of people who compared how they used to live compared to who they are becoming in Jesus.
I’m a work in progress and frequently mess up. We all do. I desire a new heart, a new mind, seen dimly and in part.
By the act of trusting Jesus, I surrender everything to the process of transformation. Every day I’m becoming a new person that can love the way I’m designed to love.
Radically and inefficiently.
The happy man is he who lives the life of love, not for the honors it may bring, but for the life itself.
— Raymond John Baughan (1946)
Finally, if you’d like to know more about what I started to share here, you’re invited to check out The Touch of God. It’s a video from my church about God’s love in a loud and busy world. Or maybe just visit a church near you. You can expect to find a bunch of folks who have been through some crap and are figuring this all out together. See you out there.