Monday, March 9, 2015

Love In, Love Out

I was saddened to hear that a guy I know may need a heart transplant.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m amazed at how common such procedures have become.  I have lived long enough to remember them when they were an earth-shaking breakthrough.  Still, it’s hard to hear that someone fairly young must go through one.

The possible transplant of a major organ got me thinking: what if someone could get a love transplant?  What would change if, say, a victim of years-long abuse began to be loved unconditionally by the people around her or him?  Every time the victim spews out angry words of retaliation, she is met with love.  Every time the victim shuts down with anxiety, he is met with love.  Every time the victim tries to control everyone in her life, she is met with love.  I mean, what would that look like?  Perhaps a better word than transplant would be transfusion.  It's like a whole new type of blood starts flowing in the victim’s veins.

Over time, be it weeks or months or years, would such a transfusion actually change the character of the victim.  In fact, would her/his identity as a victim be transformed by the transfusion?

One of my greatest privileges is that I get to regularly watch what happens when people get a love transfusion.  Without heaping guilt or condemnation on people, I watch their hearts change. Their attitude, the way they spend their time, their relationships and even their speech often changes.  In fact, I see it so often that I am no longer surprised by it.

A woman I know showed up at our church a long time ago with an extraordinary amount of pain in her background.  For a long time, I wondered why she kept coming back.  She was bent on protecting herself from being hurt again.  She purposely kept her heart hard and went through life taking what she needed without fully allowing people to really know her.  A few years ago, she got involved in a group who simply kept loving her.  In them she saw the love of God in a way she hadn’t known since she was a child.  Bit by bit, the callouses came off her heart.  The more vulnerable she became, the more she changed.  She went from bitter to tender before our eyes.  She now pursues God, not out of legalistic zeal, but out of a deep desire to respond to His great love.

"We love because God first loved us." 1 John 4:19 (New Century Version)   I don’t think that verse is saying, “We MUST love or He will condemn us.”  Instead, it means, “We start loving as a natural result of His love.”  Love in, love out!

Paying It Forward is a byproduct of a love transfusion.  That’s our topic this weekend at Stone Ridge Church.  Can’t join us?  Catch the podcast!