“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”
1 John 4:18
Brennan Manning devastated me this week. It happened when reading “The Relentless Tenderness of Jesus”. Manning makes the statement, “God’s love is based on nothing at all, and that is what makes us secure.”
There were two initial reactions that immediately arose within me. The first was the demand to be loved “because”. I want to be loved for some innate value of my own. Is this not what we are all driving for in this world. Every one of us wants to be set apart from the rest, to be the top of the heap. We yearn for a loveableness (my word) based on our own worth. We want to be loved “because” we are kind or sexy or smart or fashionable. Whatever it is that gives us worth is what we want. One look at modern media will show you that the world and those in it are striving to determine their worth by who they are or what they do. They are selling their souls for the right to be loved. And for this reason, something inside of me wanted to reject any love that loves valuelessly (my word).
Over the last few days I have asked family and friends if they would ever want to be married to someone who loved them for no reason. Would you really want a lover who did not love them because of some uniqueness they possessed? In each case those answering said that this idea of love made them feel insecure. They wanted to be loved “because”. If there is no reason behind love, then why would one stay? Why would one keep loving. What would make them special and set apart? What would keep their spouse from equally loving another?
As I pondered these thoughts, I felt a knocking at the door of my heart. A wave of peace seemed to be present and available if I was only willing to accept my own worthlessness. It is a great burden to be carrying the weight of your own self-conceived worth. Worth based on personal merit needs always be replenished. It needs always be tended. It needs always be nurtured and heaped upon. The satisfaction of worth that comes because of some “thing” we do or possess is a fleeting and elusive love.
When we base our love on a reason, love is always in jeopardy. Merit filled love can never be trusted. It is the most unfaithful of loves. Lose the merit and you lose the love.
When we begin to define ourselves as those who are worthlessly loved, we will for the first time set foot on the trail of authenticity. For the first time ever we will be able to stop with all our comparing and strivings. We can then and only then step out of the storm. For then and only then will we know love.
This type of love is beyond the human condition. It is a love reserved only for God and those of His affection. God’s love is encapsulated in a vacuum free of the contaminants of merit, production, striving, positional authority and worldly aspiration. It is a pure love that loves for loves sake. It is based on nothing but love itself and pays dues to no “thing”.
This is the perfection of love that the scripture speaks about. This is the kind of love we are called to have. This is the love of God.