Monday, February 14, 2011

love means a cross

When you are not yet married, or when you marriage is over and you look back on those years with longing, it is without doubt quite possible to idealize it.  But there is one thing which enters into all of life, one thing which will keep us from idealizing life's best and will make bearable life's worst, and that is the Cross.  The Cross must enter into marriage.  "Who loveth suffereth too."

The Cross enters the moment you recognize a relationship as a gift.  The One who gives it may withdraw it at any time, and, knowing this, you give thanks in the receiving.  Desiring above all else to do the will of God, you offer back to Him this greatest of all earthly gifts as an oblation, lifted up in worship and praise, with faith that in the offering it will be transformed for the good of others.

This is what sacrifice means.  This is why the Cross of Christ "towers o'er the wrecks of time."  Love is sacrificial.  Sacrifice is a giving, an offering up, and the meaning of sacrifice in the Bible is the giving of life to another...

...Maturity starts with the willingness to give oneself.  Childishness is characterized by self-centeredness.  It is only the emotionally and spiritually mature who are able to lay down their lives for others, those who are "masters of themselves that they might be servants of others."

The specific ways in which the great principle of the Cross works in daily living are expressed most perfectly in the Love Chapter of the Bible, 1 Corinthians 13.  Here we find proof of the stark and sacrificial rather than emotional character of love.

Christian love is action.  It is the warp and woof of marriage, and because marriage itself is a life work, this love is worked out through all the days and years of marriage, growing as it is practiced, deepening as cares and responsibilities deepen, and turning, at the same time, those cares and responsibilities (and even the drudgeries) into deeper joy.

Paul said that it is not eloquence, it is not the gift of prophecy or knowledge or even knowing the very secrets of God, it is not absolute faith that matters ultimately.  It is love.  If I know your heart at all, I know that you are not tempted to think of yourself as possessing any of these lofty and enviable gifts.  But you do love.  Of that you are perfectly sure.  Will it last?  It will, if it is the kind of love of which Paul speaks...

...If you can understand your this light, you will know fullness of life.  Hear the call of God to be a woman.  Obey that call.  Turn your energies to service.  Whether your service is to your husband and through him and the family and home God gives you to serve the world, or whether you should remain, in the providence of God, single in order to serve the world without the solace of husband, home, and family, you will know fullness of life, fullness of liberty, and (I know whereof I speak) fullness of joy.

Chapter 49 in Let Me Be a Woman by Elisabeth Elliot 
(not shown in it's entirety for the sake of length)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Love is to the heart what the summer is to the farmer's year - it brings to harvest all the loveliest flowers of the soul. -Unknown