Love is many things, but easy isn’t one of them. But that’s how pop-culture models love, isn’t it?
Whether it’s obvious or subtle, we’re shown how love should be easy: love is a feeling you follow and when the feeling stops, or in other words it stops being easy, it’s time to move on.
It’s not that people on TV or characters in movies are explicitly saying “hey, love should be easy”, after all that would make for terrible writing (hence, I’m not a screenwriter). But cultural themes consistently display easy love, and over time culture’s definition becomes our own, unless we catch it and reject it.
Sex on the Beach
Oh, the infamous “sex on the beach” scene. (For the record, I’m not referring to anything pornographic, but rather a scene you’d see in a romantic comedy or drama which alludes to sex).
We’ve all seen it… or if you haven’t you can imagine what it entails. Have you ever really considered it?
Let me just say… LOL.
Let’s think about “sex on the beach” for a second:
- Sand is no joke. They literally glue it to paper to smooth out metal and wood. As a kid when I played on the beach, I remember experiencing epic proportions of chafing in the ‘ol nether-regions. Yep, sand gets everywhere and it’s painful; enough said.
- Ocean water is cold, very cold.
- Public nudity is always bad. If the ocean water isn’t cold, you’re probably on a crowded beach. Last time I checked, exhibitionism isn’t legal or remotely cool.
- Beaches are generally gross. I’ve only been on a few beaches that are actually just sand. Most beaches are full of seaweed, gooey unknown substances, broken shells, and dead jellyfish.
- Windchill exists. Wet skin + intense wind = time to go home.
SO romantic right?
Of course, love is more than sex, but using the above example as an analogy shows how romanticized media makes it.
In movies and TV shows, couples live together in utter bliss. Affection is scripted and well timed. Characters are clever, articulate, and achieve a perfect balance of humor, drama, and depth. When conflict does arise, each character expresses themselves eloquently and self-reflection is executed with ninja-like precision.
Don’t even get me started on so-called “Reality TV” shows and how they’re categorically oxymoronic. You probably agree.
TRUE Reality TV
Meanwhile, in homes across the world, we watch, we learn, and we compare ourselves to characters of fiction. We’re entertained and we escape. We sit and gaze into the cold blue light of the screen while in the back of our minds we wonder why our marriage is so hard.
Husbands wonder why their wives don’t want sex, or vice versa. Wives wonder why their husband is so distant. Husbands contemplate their mistakes and the damage it’s caused his wife and children. Wives worry about real issues like finances, trust, and family. You wonder if you’re going to make it; if you can emotionally handle a lifetime of marriage to this person.
Our minds wander as we wonder. We look for ways out; we look for escape routes. When love gets hard we feel pain, and we naturally want the pain to stop.
Here’s the good news: Jesus had the exact same thought.
Even Jesus Looked for an Escape Route
We believe in the Gospel, and the Gospel is good news! Jesus shows us the perfect example of love through his life, death, and resurrection.
Here’s the key point – please don’t miss this: Jesus doesn’t love us because it’s easy. Jesus loves us because of who he is and who we are to him; not because it feels good, and certainly not because of anything we’ve done to earn it. He loves us because of God’s covenant with us – a covenant that says “I’ll do my part even when you fail to do yours.” Now THIS is a love we should follow.
Let’s read Luke 22:42-44
And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.
Suffering was coming and Jesus knew it. Life was about to get excruciatingly hard for him via a horrifying death on a cross. He knew it and he wanted to escape. Jesus didn’t want to die on the cross. He pleaded to God the Father, asking for a pardon. God said no.
Jesus’ response? “Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”
This is true love: God sent His only son, whom He loved beyond comprehension, to not just die, but to die a painful death and separation. Without getting too theological, I have to say, this has truly staggering implications when you consider the Trinity. Jesus IS God. God sent himself to death, he lowered himself into human form, humbled himself to death on the cross, and spent the ensuing days completely estranged from himself until his resurrection. God sits outside of time and space, and he humbled himself to constraints he created, to save and love us. Wow.
That’s the good news, Jesus was resurrected! Jesus won, love intact.
Jesus showed us how true love involves sacrifice, perseverance, and unbridled grit.
Experience Gritty Love in Marriage
As always, Jesus is our perfect example of love; especially in marriage. After all, marriage is consistently referred to as analogous to Christ’s relationship with his Church (Read Ephesians 5).
Your best opportunity to display love in it’s purest form when it isn’t easy. Jesus did it, and he even promised to send his Holy Spirit to enable us to live like he did, much like God sent an angel in the passage above: “And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him.”
Fierce friends, let’s love with grit.
Let’s love how Jesus loved us. Let’s love as living sacrifices (Romans 12:1), constantly offering up ourselves as we’re refined and renewed in Christ. The more we love like Jesus the clearer his plot becomes. The true drama of Christ’s love unfolds in us and through us when we realize that love, though it may be many things, easy is rarely one of them.
When we live out covenant love of this magnitude we don’t just observe love from a distance, we walk in it. And walking in love of this kind can scarcely be compared to the enormously limited scope of love offered by media and popular culture.
“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
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