This past weekend, I had the honor of speaking twice during the Lenexa, Kansas Law Enforcement Marriage Seminar, and one of my topics focused in on something quite foreign to us...radical love.
I want to share some of that talk with you below. Hope it speaks to your heart.
Today, we're going to be talking about something radical.
What does it mean to be Radical? An online definition I found in the adjective form says it is, "relating to or affecting the fundamental nature of something; far-reaching or thorough".
We hear that word radical a lot these days.
There are radical groups out there – BLM, ISIS, Sovereign Citizens, Al Qaeda, etc., but I'm not talking about that type of radicalism.
Today, I want to talk to you about something that goes against our very nature as human beings. Something that has only been displayed in human form perfectly one time in the history of this planet, but something we are called to emulate.
It’s a four letter word…and no, not the one you are thinking of. The word is L.O.V.E.
Over the last several weeks, law enforcement has been front and center in the news as “radical” groups have waged war against us.
Officers have been gunned down simply because they wore a badge; police families targeted because of who they are related to.
But here’s the crazy thing….the officers who were killed, died protecting those who were spewing their hatred against them. That’s true radicalism!
As I was wrestling what God wanted me to say to you all today, the word “Love” kept coming to mind. Then I ran across this verse in Matthew 5:44, “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
This is a hard verse! I don’t get the warm fuzzies when I read that verse. Listen, our human minds tend to war against these words.
I have to confess to you that there have been moments over the last several weeks that I have said some pretty harsh things to God about these individuals, and especially the upper echelon driving the fire behind them.
Love has definitely not been the emotion I’ve felt.
Yet, God tells me in His Word that I am called to love…you are called to love. And, this radical command goes for how we treat our spouse as well. We all know there can be hurtful, painful times within our marriages, and it’s not always easy to love a person who has wounded you, but yet the command is still there…love your enemies…pray for those who persecute you.
So what does love look like?
First, we have to see what it is not, so we can know what it is. Make sense?
Starting off in 1 Corinthians 13 we read –
13 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
This brings us to our first point…
1 Love is not envious/jealous –
What you all are seeing out there on the streets, in your departments and work places and even in your marriages, is dissatisfaction. People have become so focused on what somebody else has or what they don’t have, that they allow jealousy to take over their heart and mind.
What happens when you and I have a jealous heart? We take our every thought and place it on that which we don’t have and we begin to covet that very thing.
What about these protesters? What can we say about their heart?
Do you remember Ferguson? What was going on during the riots and the burnings? People by the hordes were looting the stores…smashing in the windows, taking things that didn’t belong to them. Why? Entitlement. Dissatisfaction.
What about your co-workers? Have you ever dealt with a disgruntled co-worker? A lot of that frustration comes from feelings of jealousy within that man or woman’s life. They feel as if they have been short changed…perhaps because of a promotion passover…still driving that crappy car when so-in-so got the new one…that pay raise that someone else received, etc.
And if we bring it home to our marriages, with a 65-80% divorce rate, there are definitely some jealousies going on. What about if one spouse has a better paying job, is driving the nicer car, has better friends, more social admirers, more personal time spent with others, etc. Petty, but these things can divide us.
However, radical love calls for us to lay that aside. We are to learn to be content with what we’ve been given; to allow Christ to satisfy our longings.
2 Love does not brag and is not proud-
Do you know someone who brags about themselves a lot? Someone who is so proud that it is almost visible? Maybe you are that person. Maybe I am that person.
This is not what radical love is. Radical love is a love like Jesus displayed.
If you think about it, He had everything in the universe at His fingertips - everything belonged to Him. If anyone could say they had bragging rights, He had it.
Yet, He humbled Himself to become a tiny microcosm in His mother’s womb. He limited His power. He limited His knowledge. He definitely limited His advantages, and His humbleness led Him to the cross in my place and your place, which was the greatest sacrifice in the history of mankind. God is calling us to that kind of love.
Today, as you deal with these angry, hate-filled people on the streets, as you maneuver around those within your departments and in your home, remember that it takes a radical love…a humble love to change the world. Having a proud, kickin’ spirit may get your way in certain circumstances, but it will cost you in the long run.
3 Radical love does not dishonor others or look out for its own needs-
There’s not been a day gone by in what seems like forever, that I haven’t heard some negative, derogatory comment made towards cops or those of us who support them. It’s dishonoring to the profession and to the badge. Yet what do we expect from a world who, for many, has never discovered the Author of radical love?
Let’s make it a bit more personal… how many times do we do the same thing in our marriage? We dishonor our spouse by correcting them in front of others…say negative things about them on social media or with friends…ignore or run over their feelings…we hurl unkind words or tone without even thinking about the outcome, or we withhold our feelings from them in order to protect ourselves?
But here’s the thing, if you and I are going to have a radical love – the kind that Christ displayed, then just as He did, we have to love beyond ourselves. We have to be willing to put down our guard with those we care about and let them in. We need to listen more than we speak. We’ve got to truly care about the other person and put forth the effort to get to know their heart.
The love we are called to have – that radical love - is to overlook another person’s sinful actions and instead ask how we can help meet their need.
“Marriage is one of the most humbling, sanctifying journeys you will ever be a part of. It forces us to wrestle with our selfishness and pride. But it also gives us a platform to display love and commitment.”
― Francis Chan, You and Me Forever: Marriage in Light of Eternity
― Francis Chan, You and Me Forever: Marriage in Light of Eternity
Listen, having radical love means loving beyond the walls of our own person…putting on Christ’s love and living it out loud.
4 Love is not easily angered and does not keep a record of wrongs.
Let me ask you, cause I already know how I feel, what does it do to your soul to continually be on the receiving end of anger; to continually have other’s wrong moves branded to you as a person?
If a person is continuously the brunt of someone’s anger and blame, eventually that person will resist, and it probably won’t be in a nice way.
Radical love within our relationships changes the way we respond to the emotions we are feeling.
Turn on the news and you will see angry people lashing out in the most ungodly ways, but how are we any different within our marriages when we lash out at the ones we love?
Listen, there are two types of anger – righteous anger, which is what Jesus displayed at the temple with the money changers, and then there is fleshly anger.
You and I tend to fall in the second category. Something doesn’t go our way or we have an extra stressful day at work, and we tend to allow those feelings to spill out onto our spouse and kids.
It’s hard. Believe me, I am far from perfect in this area, but to live like Christ wants me to, I must learn to control those emotions and instead love radically.
5 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
This world is full of people who delight in evil. You all see it every day. But here’s the challenge. ..
Will you dare to be different?
You may not get caught at cheating on your taxes, but God knows.
You may fudge some of your hours at work and nobody catch it. But God knows.
It may be that that flirtatious dialogue between you and another is not immediately caught on by your spouse, but God sees it.
Listen, we are called to be different. If you profess a relationship with Jesus Christ, you have a responsibility to live out the truth.
For those of you who wear a badge, you took an oath to uphold what is true and noble, but for those of you who surrendered your heart to Christ, you took an eternal oath.
We must live radically different than the world.
You know things are growing dark out there. The light of truth is fading, yet you and I can be a city on hill. We can be a light that overcomes the darkness.
We must not conform to anything but Christ’s radical love. We must love radically as we look through our "blue" lenses. When we can accomplish this, we will be able to protect, trust, hope, and persevere until His return.
How does loving this way help our marriages…they too will be radically changed!
Let’s be different.