I got to sit in a meeting last night with a leader I greatly respect and talk along with my parents about how they managed to love me through this incredibly challenging season of life.
How did they keep parenting despite my failure to obey? How did they continue to pour into my life when I, metaphorically speaking, spit in their face? How did they believe in me when I was almost failing out of school and drinking? How did they…… love me?
We talked a lot, we circled around a lot of good practical points, a lot of formulas that were true. At the end of it all though there was one thing that spoke louder than the formulas, louder than the talks, louder than anything else.
Because Christ’s love compels us. (2 Corinthians 5:14)
Christ’s love the ultimate parent who came we deserved death, walked among us when we hadn’t cleaned up our life, and loved us when it cost him his life. The ultimate love that should permeate the very core of our heart and push us to love those who deserve no such thing. This is the only thing that makes the difference.
Yet while we were still sinners…. (Romans 5:8)
You see my parents are wonderful people, they are great parents, and they do have incredible wisdom but without the love of Jesus pushing them to deny a parenting style of performance for a cross of unconditional love they would have reached their human limitations. Because even the best of us have our limits. Without a model of grace when it was most undeserved and the belief that we received a love that transcended human understanding we tend to shut people out when they don’t perform.
I lived in a world that was based on what I could earn and what I could get from others but my parents modeled something different, they modeled a love that never left, and deep in my searching heart that was what I ached for. So when I came back to Jesus I finally understood what had been missing before I left my faith. I spent the early part of my faith trying to trade with Jesus, good works for a boyfriend, church attendance for friendships, and the list goes on. I was arrogant enough to believe I had something God needed. I wanted to swap my performance for his blessings but when I finally saw that I had nothing to give and yet he still held out everything I needed I came running.
I saw it because it was modeled for me. I saw it because despite punishments, disagreements, and even harsh words at the end of the day there was no line I would cross that would cost me the relationship with my parents. And that is exactly what Jesus holds out to us, arms wide, hands scared, he holds out an invitation to a relationship that can never be lost.