On our long series looking at the allegory Hinds Feet on High Places, we ended with the King of Love going about his work in the Kingdom of Love. Hannah Hurnard described it like this:
“Here the King’s gardeners were always busy, pruning the trees, tending the plants and the vines, and preparing the beds for new seedlings and tender shoots.
These the King himself transplants from uncongenial soil and conditions in the valleys below so that they might grow to perfection and bloom in other parts of the Kingdom of Love, to beautify and adorn it wherever the King saw fit.”Hannah Hurnard
Love so tenderly and fiercely pursuing our hearts cannot help but plant love unlike human love within our own hearts. He wants that for each of us, but it is not intended for only our good and pleasure. Something that wondrous begs to be shared, not in words but in a life lived out differently in the world God created. That is what it means to be salt and light.
In the sometimes barrenness of life in this world, God transplants his love within us, and it speaks most loudly when it emanates from our undivided self.
What does that look like?
It’s when our spiritual life is not segmented into a religious compartment with everything else in another. And then, we talk less about love and simply are love toward those with whom we come in contact. We listen to the hearts of others, not to see their problems and offer a solution but to seek instead to truly know them. It is too easy to forget at times that when Christ walked the earth, He never saw a person as the problem to be fixed but rather the person to be known and loved and heard. Sometimes we get ahead of that without really hearing the person and that sets us up to be the problem solver rather than the one carrying the cup of cold water to offer to a person who is thirsty.
As I have spent time in Colossians, I see Paul’s words resonate with Christ’s desire:
“I want you woven into a tapestry of love, in touch with everything there is to know of God. Then you will have minds confident and at rest, focused on Christ, God’s great mystery. All the richest treasures of wisdom and knowledge are embedded in that mystery and nowhere else. And we’ve been shown the mystery! I’m telling you this because I don’t want anyone leading you off on some wild-goose chase, after other so-called mysteries, or “the Secret.”Colossians 2:2-4 (MSG)
Yes, love can be expressed in a myriad of ways, but it is most effective when how it is offered flows from the wholeness of our undivided selves as we discern the heart of Christ in us for the other person. That means as well keeping in perspective that the ground around the cross is level and we do not share from one above them, but one beside them.
“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”1 Corinthians 13:13 (NIV)
Perhaps we can be better at loving if we consider a waterfall. It can captivate us as it rushes from a source we may not see and cascades over rocks and keeps tumbling onward to a destination that also may not be within our gaze.
The water we see does not decide to start moving or flowing in a direction through rocks as if it were a source unto itself. The source of the water often comes from a great distance and mountains that may be much like the High Places. It flows without determining its direction but nonetheless directed for its purposes and God’s glory.
The source of the water is the God of Creation, and He determines and wills it to flow from his love and heart to remind us of Him here on earth.
So too the source of the love He would have us share comes from Him rather than a decision that it is something we are to do. If He has transformed us it will flow from what we are because of Him.
Only when God is the source is love the pure, undefiled love that sees beyond what human love can ever see or know. Only that love can truly transform our hearts, so they flow more like his heart of love for humankind.
How often are we tempted to look for some list or recipe for how to be salt and light, to be love in this world. Could it be that we are trying too hard from human love?
“My counsel for you is simple and straightforward: Just go ahead with what you’ve been given. You received Christ Jesus, the Master; now live him. You’re deeply rooted in him. You’re well-constructed upon him. You know your way around the faith. Now do what you’ve been taught. School’s out; quit studying the subject and start living it! And let your living spill over into thanksgiving.”Colossians 2:6-7 (MSG)