To the End of the Line

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Love hopes and endures all things (vs. 7).

Some people are just always down in the dumps. Recently, I was attending a basketball game with a friend. Our team was doing well and barely squeaking by with a couple-point-lead for most of the game. Then, the other team managed to score two or four point more than us for a little while. My friend leans over and declares, “Yep. We’ve lost it.”

I wasn’t so sure. “Look, we still have fifteen minutes left in the game—more than enough time to regain a couple points.” But my friend was insistent that we had already lost the game and might as well throw in the towel.

“Look at our players! They look exhausted—we’ve been beaten.”

“Aren’t you just a bundle of joy! Remind me never to pick you as the basketball coach—you’re real inspiring!”

Turns out, he was right. The other team kept scoring more and more points against us. Their lead increased to six…eight…ten points. My friend leaned over. “Now, are you ready to say they’ve lost?” I looked at the clock. A minute left. “Yep. You were right…”

Negative people prefer another title: realists. And it’s true—when a bad thing can happen, it seems most of the time…it will. But does that give us free reign to firmly state the negativity all the time? No!

Mr. Agape, on the other hand, is a relentless optimist. He “hopes all things.” This is similar to last week’s “believe all things.” Love hopes for the best—it is not despairing, but depending on God to work all things out for good.

Hope is an oft-forgotten word in the dictionary of Christianity. We so often focus on love or faith, but neglect the third member of the party. Paul here intimately connects hope with love. Now, this hope isn’t some pixie dust stuff—it’s firm confidence, grounded assurance in some truth. What truth? That God is in control. That Christ is building His church. That people will change for the better, even if they annoy you now. That things will turn out right in your relationship. That Christ is working in every member of your local church to make them more like Himself—and you must endure with them through this long process…with love.

And that’s the last thing here: “love endures all things.” Now, this sounds a lot like the first one—“bearing all things”—and in many ways it is. But it’s a different Greek word. This one here means literally to “remain behind” or even “under.” It has the sense of patiently persevering through a difficult circumstance—“remaining” in the trial and not giving up. While the former “bearing” had more to do with bearing through people’s faults, this one is seen more as enduring through people’s trials. It’s the kind of love that doesn’t bail out when things get tough—it “remains” with its friend for the long haul. When the storm comes, Mr. Agape will stick it out with those he loves—even if it costs him dearly.

This reminds me of a great quote from a great movie. Steve Rogers has just endured a tragic loss in his weakling days. He returns to his apartment with his best friend, Bucky Barnes. Bucky tries to comfort him and says some deep words:

“I’m with you to the end of the line, pal.”

That’s what love looks like. That’s what Christ looks like. When He saw our human race choose to do what’s wrong—when He saw us face all sorts of problems and all kinds of pain—He didn’t abandon us. He didn’t forsake His Creation—crumple us up and start over. No, He endured WITH us. Literally, with us because He became Emmanuel—God with us. Here on this foul planet, living in our gunk, and loving us through our pain. He stuck it out with His friends Mary and Martha when their brother died…He felt their tears on His face. He endured with the nobleman who spoke of his dying son. He followed the guy all the way to His house to bring his daughter back to life. He loved people in spite of their circumstances. He didn’t befriend people to get something out of them. No, He befriended them because of love…and loved them so much that He entered their pain and experienced death Himself—to heal their broken hearts.

Why? Because He had hope. He was confident that God could change these people. He knew His power to transform lives—to take a dimwitted Peter and make him a dynamo. To take a crazed demoniac and make him a missionary. To take ruined sinners and reclaim them. And give them hope.

That’s what kind of Savior we have. Now, what kind of lover are you? The kind that takes advantage of people—USES them. Or the kind that hopes for their best and sticks it out with them through all their pain.

Christ is with us to the end of the line. Are you that way with your friends, your family, your church?

-M@

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