I am reading Francis Chan’s Crazy Love for the second time now, and I believe it is even better than the first time I read it. As I was reading in Chapter 8: Profile of the Obsessed, I came across some words that stuck out to me. “People who are obsessed with Jesus give freely and openly, without censure. Obsessed people love those who hate them and who can never love them back.” Hmmmm. These words stopped me in my reading. I tried to continue with the chapter, but these words kept pulling me back to them. They were typed right under a passage taken from Frederick Buechner’s The Magnificent Defeat. Here is that passage:
“The love for equals is a human thing-of a friend for friend, brother for brother. It s to love what is loving and lovely. The world smiles. The love for the less fortunate is a beautiful thing-the love for those who sufer, for those who are poor, the sick, the failures, the unlovely. This is compassion, and it ouches the heart of the world. The love for the more fortunate is a rare thing-to love those who succed where we fail, to rejoice without envy with those who rejoice, the love of the poor for the rich, of the black man for the white man. The world is always bewildered by its aints. And then ther is the love for the enemy-love for the one who does not love you but mocks, threatens, and inflicts pain. The tortured’s love for the torturer. This is God’s love. It conquers the world.”
WOW! That last part of the passage grabbed me, and then to find the other words right under it, I couldn’t shake them. How easy it is to love those who love us back, to love those who seek good for us and do not try ot bring harm to us. How easy it is for us to brush the very thought of our enemies from our minds. These words that I came across in my reading have brought heaviness to my heart, but not a wrong heaviness. This heaviness is needed. I need to be reminded that as a disciple of Christ, I am called to a higher way of living and an extraodirnary way of loving than that of the world. My enemies need the love of Christ too, and I am in no place to deny them of that love. I find that by denying them of the love that I am called to give, I am being selfish and prideful. It causes me to think about the way Christ loves me. He sees me at my worst, and loves me still. He has loved me from the beginning, and has never stopped loving me, nor will he ever stop loving me. His love for me remained the same when I chose to turn my back on Him, and yet when someone brings hurt to me, I cannot find it in my heart to love them.
There are people who have brought great pain to me, and to my family. I have said to myself that I have forgiven them, and that they weren’t going to bring me hurt any longer. But the truth is that although my words said forgiveness, I held on to the hurt. The hurtful words spoken about me, the hurtful words spoken about my family, the glaring looks, all of it, I held on to. How can I have forgiven them if I am still holding on to the hurt? The truth is, I can’t. I have to let go, and then I can truly forgive them. The pain of the hurt they have caused me and my family is still there, but Jesus did not say to forgive and love your enemies when the pain goes away and you feel good. No, He called us to forgive and love at all times, even when the pain is still there. I have heard it said that unforgiveness is like taking poison but expecting it to bring harm to the other person. I believe that that is a good description of unforgiveness. We bring more harm to ourselves by harboring unforgiveness, resentment, and anger than we do to our enemies. By loving and forgiving those who hurt us, we are set free from the hurt and pain.
I know God was reminding me of all of this through my reading. I know that He is telling me to love and forgive, even though it is hard, and even though the pain is still there. I have felt Him reminding me before that not everyone is going to like you or like what you do, but you only need to be concerned with what He thinks. Christ loves us, and He is our advocate. When others bring hurt and pain to our lives, we need to remember the hurt and pain that Christ endured so that we could experience His love. As disciples of Christ we are called to love our enemies with an extraordinary love that is only found in Christ. That love is the “crazy love” of Jesus Christ.