The Love Paradox

face in square reflections
Image credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/thescw/5964542728/">Sweet Cheeks Willie</a>

John 15:9-17

I loved you just like God loved me. Stay in my love.

This is how you stay in my love: do what I say. I do what God says. That’s how I stay in God’s love.

(I’ve told you all this so my happiness can be your happiness. Be completely happy.)

And this is what I’m telling you to do: Love each other, the way I’ve loved you. The ultimate love is to give your life for your friends. If you do this, you’re my friends. Not just my employees with no vested interest in what the employer is doing, but friends with a personal stake in, and a first hand knowledge of, the business.

You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you. Now go and do what’s worthwhile, something enduring. On my account, God will give you what you need to make it happen. Do it for the love of one another.

It’s been said, “Love is a verb.”

In this passage, it is both a noun and a verb. It’s received and stayed in (perhaps even basked in) as a noun, and it is given as a verb. It is something both felt and done.

On either end of the love transaction, though, in this passage, what is paramount is that love is something that, both in the giving and the receiving, requires a personal stake.

You can be good to your employees. You can be a good employee. But you can only love a friend.

You can be in a business for the money, or to make a living. But you can only be in love when you’re committed to a project or a person with your life.

Noun or verb, Jesus says love as a personal stake means two things:

First, you can only really be happy – completely happy – when you’re in love. Which is to say, you can only really find that which truly fulfills you when you’re willing to risk giving yourself away.

Second, the project or person worthy of that kind of personal devotion isn’t something that you decide upon. There is no “going away to find yourself.” Rather, it’s something (or someone) that chooses you. It is not finding, but allowing yourself to be found that matters.

Even More Important When It’s Hard

feet walking away across a bridge
Photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/23890964@N03/6133080172/">Lindsay Stanford</a>

2 John 12-13

There is plenty more I could say, but I’d rather not write it down. Instead, I’m planning to visit you. It’ll be so much better to deal with it face to face.

People from the church here all say, “Hello.”

Everything from last week’s post about phoning it in applies here, too.

In addition, consider that it’s especially important to make it personal when the subject matter is hard.

It’s the time we’re most tempted to deal with it impersonally, of course. We’d rather not deal with the added stress of in-person confrontation.

Put it this way. In the moments when your head is telling you, “just send an email,” but your gut says, “you’ve got to go pay a visit and get this straightened out,” your gut is almost always right.

It’s Not Just Business. It’s Personal.

handshake
Photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/sahajameditation/4625408407/">Sahajah Meditation</a>

3 John 13-15

I could write a lot more, but rather than write, I’m hoping to visit soon. Then we’ll talk.

Be at peace. Your friends here all say hello. Tell our friends there, we say hello, too.

Personal contact is much better for sorting things out. Whether it’s church, business, or family. The more personal, the better. Personal customer service is better than an email. A personal invitation is more likely to get a response than a form letter. A handwritten thank you note communicates more of your gratitude than an e-card.

It’s always been true. But it’s even more true in a digital age where everything is automated. It’s easy to phone just about anything in. But when you take the time and effort to do something in person, it stands out. Because it’s you, not a machine. It’s your time, not someone else’s that you paid to handle it.

You can write a lot. Better to say it in person, when you can. When it really counts.