I couldn’t get it out of my head. It was a simple enough phrase, but one I am not sure I had ever heard before.
“He loves really well.”
A couple of days ago I heard a talk at a youth minister’s gathering here in Minnesota. The talk wasn’t earth shattering, but for some reason I couldn’t get this phrase out of my head. “He loves really well.”
I went to youth group in the 90’s so of course I know the ridiculously dated DC Talk song Luv is a Verb (Here is the video if you
dare.) I know that love is something I do, not something I have. I know that the greatest act of love is Jesus’ self-sacrifice on the cross. I get the concept, but I honestly had never heard someone qualify another’s ability to love. “He loves really well” got me thinking about how one could love well or poorly. Even as I write this, I feel like an idiot – this isn’t new information.
Why was this phrase blowing my mind? I’m not sure I have an answer yet. What I do know is that I want to love really well.
I don’t want to just love sufficiently. I want to love really well.
Can you imagine turning to your spouse on your wedding day and saying, “I love you honey. I love you just enough so that you aren’t too frustrated with me. I love you just enough so that you don’t complain too much about me to your friends. I want to love you just sufficiently.” Can you imagine looking your children in the eye and saying, “ My darling children, I love you. I love you just enough so that you aren’t lacking for anything too critical. I love you just a little bit beyond where you could blame me in future counseling sessions. I love you just sufficiently.”
How selfish? No one would say those things. But I know that I often love just sufficiently. Love is really hard work, and my laziness often leads me to love just enough.
We all love God just sufficiently sometimes.
When it comes to God, we often don’t love really well. We often sound like this, “God, I love you. I love you just enough to pray for 2 minutes this Sunday even though I can’t get to Mass because I have a tournament. I love you just enough to be generous with my friends even though I am not so good to my family. God I love you just enough that I won’t go ‘all the way’ with my girlfriend even though we have done pretty much everything but that.” We say with our words that we love God totally, while our lives scream, “What is just enough ‘loving God’ so that I don’t go to hell”?
Loving someone just sufficiently isn’t love – it’s self-service. Doing for others just enough to get what we want is using them. So often our faith practice is about getting what we want, loving God only sufficiently.
There is good news.
God doesn’t love just sufficiently – God loves very, very well. God loves abundantly, overwhelmingly, totally, completely, unconditionally, ridiculously, irrationally, freely, and forever. And if someone can “love really well,” that means it is possible to get better at it. I can turn it around. I can love better tomorrow than I did today. I can love better tonight that I did the rest of the day. The good news is that God loves perfectly and by God’s grace, we can love better.
Love really well today.