One of my all-time favorite movies is Sabrina, with Audrey Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart. To this day, I can’t watch that movie without dreaming of a pretty dress, a handsome man, and a trip to Paris that inspires it all. And while a girl can dream, the chances of me marrying a billionaire business-mogul who hosts Saturday night soirees just so we can sip champagne and dance underneath the stars isn’t super likely (however if you know a single gentleman who fits that description, I’m free this weekend). I totally understand that Sabrina is just a movie – a directed, dialogued, rehearsed movie – but I still find myself getting caught up in the fantasy that that’s what love should look like. But it’s not, is it?
In reality, love is messy. It’s fighting about finances because you both just want to give the kids the best life they can. It’s attending your sibling’s graduation ceremony even though you’re pretty sure the main speaker has never publicly spoken in their life. It’s helping a friend move to a new house. It’s doing loads upon loads of laundry and sink upon sink of dishes. 98% of the time love is the most unglamorous, anti-Hollywood actions. Love isn’t perfect monologues and European vacations; it’s moments no one ever spends time daydreaming about. Love is messy, tedious, and surprisingly ordinary. And it’s also your God-given calling.
Jesus understood what love is perfectly. He didn’t form relationships with people just to ask, “But what am I getting out of this?”. He gave everything He could to people who couldn’t give a thing back. He jumped head first into unspectacular tasks without every expecting a pat on the back. He washed feet, fished for food, and hung around people deemed “unclean” by the world around them. And He did all this purely out of love. Not a pretty, edited version of love. A real roll-up-your-sleeves, this-could-get-messy type of love. The type of love that can leave you exhausted physically and emotionally. And He calls us to do the same.
Living as a Christian means loving like Jesus. It means taking the high road when no one else will. It means doing the tasks no one else wants to do. It means humbling yourself so that service becomes a lifestyle, not a special event. And it means doing all of this with a joyful heart. It’s not easy or pretty and no one’s every going to make a movie about it. But if we really believe that we have a God who loves us so much that He sacrificed His son for us, shouldn’t that inspire us to make some sacrifices too? I suggest we start with our pride, vanity, and Hollywood version of love. I think we may just find that God’s version – as messy as it is – is a whole lot better.
Last Saturday not one handsome billionaire asked me to come dance with him. No one delivered a perfect monologue about how stunning I looked underneath the moonlight. No one poured me a glass of champagne while we watched fireworks in the distance. But my roommate vacuumed my bedroom because she knew I was busy. It’s not Hollywood love, but it’s Jesus love and I wouldn’t trade it for the world (or even for Humphrey Bogart).
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”. Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church