I’ve spent most of my adult life loving for the wrong reasons. Due to insecurities, fears, and false idols, I’ve looked to others to affirm me, placing ever-increasing expectations on the people in my life.
In King’s Cross, Timothy Keller described me perfectly saying that there’s a certain mercenary quality to our relationships; we invest our love only where we will get a good return and we look for people whose love really affirms us. “We’re not loving the person simply for himself or herself; we’re loving the person partly for the love we’re getting.”
Keller continues, “In the end, we’re all alike, groping for true love and incapable of fully giving it. What we need is someone to love us who doesn’t need us at all. Someone who loves us radically, unconditionally, vulnerably. Someone who loves us just for our sake. If we received that kind of love, that would so assure us of our value, it would so fill us up, that maybe we could start to give love like that too. Who can give love with no need? Jesus.”
Keller shared a note that a young woman in his church wrote to a friend:
“A major issue in my life has been people-pleasing. I needed approval, to be liked, admired, accepted. But for the first time I was able to see how important it was that I identified with Christ—his love has enabled me to set up emotional boundaries with people that I never could before. This has enabled me to love my friends and family for who they are and not seek more from them, because I can find whatever is lacking in Christ. It’s been a huge relief to finally feel free enough to love people and know that in Christ, I am safe and protected and that protecting myself or standing up for myself is actually a good thing.”
Keller asks: “Do you see how the security of Jesus’ love enables her to need less, and to love more? True love, love without neediness, is generative; it is the only kind that makes more of itself as it goes along. His love is perfect love, radically vulnerable love. And when you begin to get it, when you begin to experience it, the fakery and manipulativeness of your own love starts to wash away, and you’ve got the patience and security to reach out and start giving a truer love to other people.”
After much prayer and the encouragement of friends these past four years, I feel the security of God’s love and have the patience and security to give a truer love to other people.
I pray that in this New Year of 2012, we feel valued through the love of Jesus Christ. Then we can need less and love more.