The L Word


I don’t remember her name.

I do remember she reminded me of Mrs. Doubtfire…
if Mrs. Doubtfire were real and taught Sophomore English.

She was short and wore wire frames that seemed to magnify her sleepy eyes.
Out of every class I’d taken hers was my favorite: Creative Writing.
Out of every project I had to do she assigned my favorite: Love & Hate.

She gave me a week to come up with 100 things I love and 100 things I hate.
I found my list a few weeks ago.

My list talked of my family and friends.
My new relationship with Jesus and how I loved spending time in worship.
But the majority of it was filled with very shallow “loves.”

Here are a few answers that stuck out to me:

–  I love to watch the sun set.
–  I love all things chocolate.
–  I love llamas.
–  I love the smell of burning leaves.
–  I love really buttery popcorn.
–  I love the feeling right before bed when you take your socks off and it’s like your feet can finally breathe for the first time all day.

I am proud to say that I haven’t changed much.
I eat chocolate almost every day.
I literally just posted a Llama picture on Instagram.
I will drive out of my way for a movie theater that lets you put your own butter on your popcorn. Talk about a power trip.

I enjoy all these things.
But do I love them?

Yesterday at Target I heard a young girl tell her friend, “I LOVE these shoes.”
Here was my thought process:

  1. Why? They are ugly.
  2. No you don’t. You just like them and want them.

About a week ago I had the privilege to eat lunch with a Missionary I will call Ken who has been living in Egypt and sharing the Gospel in one of the most dangerous places in the world. He said something that has really messed me up.

When asked how we should share our faith with Muslims in America,
his answer was this:
“Love”

Love is the only way. And this isn’t an easy task.

He began to unravel why this isn’t an easy task.
Muslims believe in devotion and submission.
But in Islam there is no concept of love.
Their Quran never mentions it and they certainly never use it in conversation.

Ken explained how he has learned to change his language so that he can use the “L” word with all the power and potential it has. When he says the words, “I Love You” or “God Loves You” to a Muslim he has to make sure they know what it means.

For this reasons he says that he never uses it out of context.
He would never say, “I loved this meal” or “I love this movie.”

They have no concept of love so he has to build one for them.
And the framework is the Gospel.

This made me wonder…
In America,
In my own backyard,
In Detroit, MI
How many people really truly have and understand what love is?

The “L” word has been twisted over time.
The NY Times released an article about the use of love in advertising.
In the article they list a small sampling of TV and print ads that use love to sell their products. The word love has been used to sell everything from cars and makeup, to shoes and greasy food.

But again I have to ask myself, do we really love any of those things?

We may like them,
appreciate them,
or desire them even,
but I don’t think that we love them.

In Scripture love is almost exclusively for a person.

Love your neighbor.
Love your family.
Love your enemy.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul.

We are called to LOVE people.

Yet I wonder, how many of those people I’ve heard me say, “God Loves You”
only to have me turn around and say, “I LOVE chocolate cheesecake”?

How many lost people have I jeopardized or confused simply by using this word out of context?

How dare I speak the same word and that I use to describe my appreciation for all things chocolate to explain the way the Father feels about someone who is lost.
Those two things cannot be compared.

We have unintentionally minimized the greatest gift
we have ever received – the undying, unyielding,
pursuing, perfect, and crazy love of God.

The way we feel about our possessions, our desires, and our passions will all one day fail us or fade away, but the Love of God is endless.

We can be separated from our feelings and our favorite things,
but there is nothing high or low, on earth or above, in death or in life that can separate us from the Father’s love.

If we want to follow in our Savior’s footsteps we have to use the word love
not as a way of saying we like or want something,
but as a way of revealing the life-changing,
dead-raising, sin-covering, joy-giving, grace-filled
LOVE that the Father has for us and
for every person we meet!


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