AVAILABLE FOR LOVE
"If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men"
Romans 12: 18 NASB
Paul’s statement to live peaceably with all men is God’s ideal for us. The “if possible” clause found in the verse however, is a qualifier, and it implies that God’s desire for peaceful relations, though always desirable, is not always possible. One party in a relationship can desire to live in peace and the other makes it impossible by his attitudes and actions. Hence, living in peace is a two-way-street; responsibility for this state falls equally on those who are to relate to each other.
Love, like peace, is also a condition that God wants among his people and all men. It is the crown of all virtues and is greatly urged upon us. But love too, is a two-way-street. I can only fulfill the command to love my brother if my brother is “available for love.” Since I have a responsibility from God to love my brother, then my brother has a responsibility from God to be available to me for love. If my responsibility to show him love is hindered by his unavailability or inaccessibility, then I am not at fault before God. In other words love also, from a practical aspect, has an “if possible” clause.
Even the command to teach all nations is not without restriction. Implicit in Christ’s commission to teach all nations, is the assumption that there are students who wants to be taught. I have tried (a couple times too many), to teach persons who did not want to be taught, and no matter how hard I tried, communication did not result. Similarly, Christ longed for fellowship with Jerusalem, the chosen city of the former dispensation. He tried many times to wrap his protective arms around it and love it, but it did not happen. The reason Jesus said was, Jerusalem did not want to (Matthew 23:37, 38). God desperately wanted to love its inhabitants but they were simply unavailable for love. If almighty God with His infinite ways and means could not force love upon the city, do you suppose that we can force love upon each other?
There are a number of things that can make us unavailable. Sometimes it is the voice of a low self-esteem, imbedded in our psyche that says to us that we are not lovely or lovable. On such occasions our unavailability is our way of protecting other people from ourselves. We think that they may not like what they discover in us if we were available, so we make ourselves unavailable. At other times we become inaccessible as a means of protecting ourselves from the presumed hurt that others may inflict upon us if we allowed ourselves to be loved. Sometimes this presumption comes out of painful experiences we have had in our quest to relate. With the cinema of our remembrance rolling, we erroneously conclude that what has happened before will inevitably happen again.
So here we are, a spiritual family built on the foundation of love, identified by love and with a commission to love, coming late to the assemblies and leaving early. If someone is fortunate enough to have our telephone number, the impersonal machine generally answers, and a return call is seldom made. Here we are as ambassadors of love handing out dead handshakes and cold hugs, polite smiles and superficial “how-are-yous?” In our minds, though this place of unavailability is lonely, it is safe. From this so called “safe” distance we do not allow anyone to weep or rejoice with us, to comfort or exhort us or to bear our burdens, and thus keep the law of Christ. (Gal 6: 2) We are simply unavailable for love. Since God is love, those who are unavailable for love are in reality unavailable for God, and that is the ultimate tragedy. May God help make our hearts available and accessible to Him and His people.
Written by: Thaddeus Bruno
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