The idea of “outrageous love” has followed me around for months now. It started when I heard a guy in a documentary mention that Christians are not known for their outrageous love. I was offended for a moment, before realizing he was right…
Given the timing of this post aligning with the recent Supreme Court ruling, I just have to clarify that I am not in any way talking about the world’s definition of love. I wish that type had a different name so I could draw a better distinction. There are several types of love in the New Testament, but I’m reflecting on deep, heartfelt passion for God and for the people God created. That is not the same as giving people what they want to make them happy. If those things lead them to sin or there is a reason God wants to withhold those things from them, it’s not at all loving to lead them astray in that way.
I think it’s human nature to desire to be outrageously loved. Pretty much all the mainstream movies I can think of involve someone selflessly–courageously— putting oneself at risk for the well-being of another. Yet I also remember the disillusionment I faced when I was younger, when I concluded that we all wish for others to take big risks for us, yet it’s rare that we are willing to do it for others. In real life, we’re afraid to fight for others, or sometimes don’t love them enough to leave our comfort zones to do so.
We have a perfect example of one human who did love us outrageously. The work of the One we follow could be summed up with the term, “outrageous love”. I daresay John 3:16 is one of the most famous truths from the Bible: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life”. It’s outrageous, but true. Maybe that’s why it’s so hard for some people to believe.
“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:6-8.
So, if we were saved–delivered from the certainty of eternal damnation, and released from our chains of slavery–by an act of outrageous love, how could we consider not sharing that love in an outrageous way?
God plays the beautiful Veggie Tales version of “His Banner over Me is Love” through my mind frequently. The words are true, His banner over me IS love, and I have the precious memory of watching Abigail dance in her first recital to that song, right after I was healed. Everything about it casts the cares of this world away and reminds me of the truth of His outrageous love for me.
Some people go through life not experiencing or receiving the outrageous love of God or from His people, but it seems like time and time again God has called others to share His love for me in powerful ways. They aren’t always huge gestures. Sometimes it’s the little things, timed perfectly. And sometimes the experiences seem so minor that if we aren’t paying attention we miss the magnitude. I usually am very general on here so I don’t accidentally miss anyone and leave them feeling unappreciated. But, I will make an exception in this case. I have a friend who loved me really well through our journey with cancer, and I’m sad because she just moved away. So, I thought I’d give her the attention I should have given her while she lived in town.
As I type I recognize that these acts don’t seem that significant, but they are and were very important to me. Something about this outrageous love is the personalized experience, knowing that God knows what we need and when we need it. It can also assure us that we don’t need to sail around the world to love others well. Just stay close to the Lord and He will reveal the opportunities.
Shannon was the first non-relative to ever watch baby Naomi. She took her when I had surgical appointments two days in a row, and Naomi cried the whole time. Naomi was inconsolable (still hadn’t taken a bottle or anything), but Shannon didn’t act like it was any burden at all. She made it seem easy and I can’t tell you the relief I felt with being able to leave her and not feel guilty about it. Better yet, while I was still in my “I won’t let cancer break me!” phase, Shannon was the first person I saw shed a tear over it. I had known her less than a year and received her vulnerability as a precious gift that inspired me to embrace the broken heartedness I felt. It is okay to be sad, it’s okay to care for others. In fact, Jesus wept for His friends, and that was the example Shannon followed. Lastly, when I started this blog I was literally terrified to be put to shame. Sharing my feelings in a public forum–literally inviting others to reject my innermost, hidden self–was indescribably frightening. Not only did she follow it immediately, but before I had even memorized the web address, she had shared it with everyone she saw. She followed the Holy Spirit to fight through outreach and prayer for my family and for me, and she does things like that for others every single day. Houston is so fortunate that she and her whole family are on their way to share God’s love with them!