The Surprise of Love

Jesus said, "Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends... Love one another as I have loved you." John 15:13, 34

"There's a surprise inside," Amy said as she slipped the ring on my finger. Later, on the way to the reception I read "John" and wondered if they got the wrong name... Then I realized Amy had picked a verse for us, one that would challenge us for the rest of our lives.

Lay down your life... 

That verse has become more and more real to me as the essence of marriage, and the essence of life as a follower of Jesus. It's not a sentimental or sappy love, it's sacrificial. It's costly. It's not about me, but it's about living like Jesus.

As I have loved you...

Work hard to love each other, and love like Jesus? It's sacrificial, blessing, giving up something special, humble. It's building a bridge of friendship, compassion, hope.

For a church, it means caring for each, encouraging, listening, praying, submitting, forgiving, and welcoming each other. 

It means getting out of our four walls and making a difference, entering the world of poverty and injustice, building a house in Mexico, practicing hospitality, or showing up because it's important to the other. 

It's going across the globe, the border, the street. It's crossing into the discomfort zone where I don't know what's next or what to say.

Important? Essential

"Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me." Mark 8:34

Going to the cross this week, Jesus invites us along to love in very simple ways. And along the way our lives, relationships, and churches look more like Jesus. 

A few weeks ago I met the mayor of Encinitas over a coffee. I wanted to share with her about our serve day in February when our church closed down our services in the Sanctuary and served the county in 80 places, including 20 sites in her city. 

"I know," she said. "You washed my dad's windows." 

What a great surprise.


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