Be a Weirdo and Choose to Love
Years ago, we celebrated the 50th anniversary of my grandparents. We rented a hall and got a bunch of food and drinks and filled the place with dancing and celebration and memories. (We may or may not have performed a choreographed dance to Living on Love by Alan Jackson, but let's just leave that alone.) It was a beautiful time. Half a century of marriage! That is quite a feat, and quite a reason to praise God.
All relationships are hard, but marriage is hardest. It just is. So 50 years of it meant my grandparents went through a lot. They caused each other pain and they bore each other's burdens. They cried and laughed and probably drove each other completely nuts.
But they chose love.
When I was 16, I put my brand new truck in a roadside ditch. I had spent the evening drinking at a local amateur rodeo with some friends, and my buddies and I got in my truck to go home. I turned the corner on a slick backroad. To a braindead teenager like myself, it was a great opportunity to get sideways. I floored it, and we got sideways and then a little sideways-er, hitting a guard rail and sliding headlights skyward into the ditch. I got pulled out of the ditch, and then I called Dad. I knew I could always call Dad.
"Hey buddy." They were at a nice restaurant and I remember hearing plates and forks and conversational hum in the background.
(Voice shaking) "Dad, I've been in an accident."
"Are you okay?" He asked.
"Have you been drinking?"
"Get home. We will talk when Mom and I get there."
When my parents got there, we had the talk. I felt two feet tall. My truck was wrecked and so was my ego. But Mom and Dad didn't shame me. I had to pay for the damage and I was grounded for quite some time, but they spoke to my heart and not merely my behavior. I am certain they were disappointed - they told me so. But they were probably also furious. But even after their nice dinner out was interrupted because their moron son got drunk and wrecked the truck they'd bought for him, they restrained themselves.
They chose love.
Jesus should have been received with overwhelming praise and adoration. He came on a rescue mission, healing and feeding and caring for people. He was the embodiment of what the prophets had foretold in Scripture, and he came to free the world from sin and death. He was perfectly generous, perfectly wise, and perfectly moral. Yet he was hated. He was not only hated, he was despised. He was prosecuted for his scandalous message and tortured to death between two criminals.
But Jesus chose love.
He urged his Father to forgive his executioners. He invited one of the criminals next to him to join him in paradise. Every nerve in his body must have been on fire. He must have trembled from shock. But he mustered up love. And he offers that same love to us.
How do we choose to love when those around us are unlovable? Well, we really can't - unless we get some help. Logic would suggest we should just love those who love us and forget the rest. But the logic-defying Gospel of Jesus Christ gives another route: love foolishly. Enemies. Friends. Spouses. Outcasts. Everyone. Love those people who don't deserve it. Because we are those people. We are the sinners and outcasts who need Jesus to offer his grace and mercy.
We can only give that which we've been given. And because we've been given the most outrageous, unearned, crazy love of Jesus - we can share it with others. That's weird, though. It doesn't make sense to love people who you'd rather choke. It's not about feeling like loving, though. It's about loving. That's a verb, not a feeling.
May we choose love, especially when we don't feel like it. Not just because Jesus did, but rather because he still does - and because his Spirit lives inside those of us who follow him. With his help, we are able.