Friday, December 24, 2010

The Price Tag of Love

I don't have a lot of money for Christmas gifts this year. As much as I wish I could shower my friends and family with special things to unwrap, it's just not possible.

But, as we all know, things are not what Christmas is really about. It's about love - a Heavenly Father who loved us so much that He gave Himself to us.

I've been thinking a lot lately about the price of real love - not monetarily, but emotionally, spiritually, sacrificially. How much is enough? How much is too much? Is there too much? At what point do you say "that's it, that's all, I'm finished?" What's the time limit on loving someone? How many chances do you give? Where's the finish line on giving someone the benefit of the doubt? Of forgiveness? Of exposing your heart completely unprotected, even though you know for sure and certain that you're going to get hurt?

I became a Gleek roundabout this past May, at the influence of my best friend, and promptly fell in love with Kurt and Rachel's version of "Defying Gravity." At the time, a few lines in particular really stood out to me:

Too long I've been afraid of
Losing love I guess I've lost
Well if that's love
It comes at much too high a cost

I downloaded the song on iTunes and spent weeks singing along with it in the car, especially when I felt wrung out, worn out, hurt, and frustrated by people I loved and trusted most. It was as if it were giving me validation for feeling like I could stop giving, stop loving, stop being sacrificial, because the price tag was just too high.

Thankfully, as He always does, God intervened.

The lyrics began to not sit well with me, and haven't for months now. Whenever I heard them, I felt a spiritual itching, a prodding, like a thorn poking me repeatedly saying no, that's not right. There is no "too high a cost" when it comes to love.

And then He reminded me of what Jesus had to say about it:

"Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." -John 15:13

Now, as Christians, we're supposed to be loving and sacrificial. That's easy to do with people we don't know. It's even almost easy to do it with people we don't really like personally, because even though we may not see eye to eye, by gosh, we "love them with the love of Jesus" and we get a feeling of self-righteousness when we do. But where it gets really hard is when it's someone close, someone we trust, someone we hold dear.

I think Jesus knew. He knew. Look at what He said. He didn't say, "Greater love has no one than he who lays down his life for a bunch of people he doesn't know." He didn't say "Greater love has no one who lays down his life to prove how loving he is." Nope. He said, "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends."

Laying down your life. That's the highest price tag there is.

And that's the answer. That's the limit. That's the finish line. Not when I want to stop. Not the first or second or tenth or twentieth time someone makes me cry. Not when it feels too hard, too painful, like it's too high a cost. Jesus set the example: laying down your life. That's it.

Until I get there, I'm not done yet.

This summer, just as God started giving me the spiritual itch about "Defying Gravity," He gave me another song to replace it. Here are some of the lyrics:

I'd go hungry, I'd go black and blue
I'd go crawling down the avenue
No, there's nothing that I wouldn't do
To make you feel my love

My Daddy and Lord likes that song much better. He pours out the Holy Spirit on me when I listen to it in the car. Even when it hurts. Even when I don't really want to. Even when just listening to it makes me cry.

He says, "That's more like it."