‎"Be regular and ordinary in your life, like a bourgeois, so that you may be violent and orginal in your work."
-Gustave Flaubert

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Sentimentality and the Cross

John 15:13

"No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends."

Many portrayals of the nature of love are laced with sentimentality. Sentimental love goes heavy on emotional indulgence. It’s more navel gazing than neighbor oriented. More ego-affirming than self-emptying. A love that allows us to smile benignly at sin, rather than a love that holds us accountable to each other. This type of love looks pleasant enough on the outside, but has the whiff of death in it. When put to the test, it’s as wispy as air.

In contrast, Jesus’ love is much starker. It evaporates the mist of sentimentality through the cross. "No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends." Jesus' execution was no accident. He walked straight into the teeth of death, deliberately, for us. This love is so qualitatively greater than sentimental love that it's hard for us to recognize. In fact, we can't even choose it- it chooses us, which is to say Jesus chooses us.

The witness of the early church of Jesus' resurrection was a witness to this powerful love. Easter faith was energized by people who were pulled so strongly by the cosmic love that raised Jesus. They were pulled out of themselves and staked their lives on that which claimed them.

This was a love that was so powerful it made the resurrection an actuality. Jesus' resurrection was not only a miracle- it was the consequence of a divine love so heart-breakingly strong. Love made the resurrection real. And the resurrection gave love concrete embodiment.

What would a life lived under the influence of such love look like? What kind of fruit would we bear? What would a person do when she surrenders to the irresistible pull that raised Jesus out of the tomb? Fall forward in trust and see.

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