I write this on February 15th and Valentine’s Day is fresh on my mind. But by the time it reaches your inbox, it will feel like last year’s news. Nevertheless, stores were set up for weeks and millions of dollars spent. Cards, chocolates, meals, and all sorts of gifts! Not even a global pandemic could deter it from delivering all it promises.
What does it promise to deliver? How lasting is the impact of this holiday of Love?
Truth be told, by this time, Valentine’s Day is likely a distant memory. In all its tradition and popularity, not very lasting at all. Sad commentary on the holiday of Love, heh?
Well, there is a Holiday coming up that has kept its promise to deliver. Easter! And you might be surprised to learn that the events of Easter weekend connect powerfully to one of our American heroes, The Reverend, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
What’s the common thread between the two?
It’s a love not shaped like a box of chocolate, but instead “shaped like a cross”. Cruciform Love exposes and enlightens. Cruciform love transforms. Cruciform love lasts…
This kind of love was essential to Dr. King’s belief and movement. Without it, his legacy would be different. His destiny would have travelled a different road. He believed deeply in its power. He embraced it, he taught it, and he saw the affect and power of a cross-shaped love.
Jesus of Nazareth was the first to put this Cross-shaped love on display. It was at the core of His life’s ministry, yet unrecognizable until the end. Humanity had trouble seeing it for it was new. The religious establishment, the governing authorities, even his closest students did not see this Cross-shaped love.
Jesus taught about a love that would will what was best for others, even and especially if it cost you something. And to do it, not for what you would gain, but because of the immeasurable worth of the object of that love.
When Jesus said “love your enemies” then demonstrated it on that Passover weekend, He left us a clear model of what He meant.
His executioners were enemies, not because He had them on some enemy list. They were enemies because He was on their enemy list. They desired His harm and His suffering. They needed an example set so that others wouldn’t attempt to follow. He was their enemy. Yet – He held no contempt. Offered no rage. Desired no vengeance. Instead, he recognized their human frailty. Their inability to truly see.
Their ignorance. And prayed to His God that this grievance not be held against them, because they just didn’t know what they were doing (Luke 23).
Jesus knew what His life’s work would eventually lead to and the power it would have on those who could see. Some would see another Jew crucified. But others – others would see an innocent man, who had every right to curse, promise just retribution, and violently resist, choose not to do so. Rather, they’d see one who exemplified a non-violent, enemy-embracing, self-sacrificing love the likes the world had never seen. And they’d be drawn to it. (John 8:28, 12:32-33)
And so it was…. The world saw, and a New Way of living was embraced. Blinding scales will fall from our eyes, as they did Paul’s, when we, just like he, saw for the first time, the beauty and power of this Cruciform love (Acts 9).
We awake from the enslaving Matrix, and we step into a new way of living. A way consisting of transformative power by a Cross-shaped Love. Dr. King saw Jesus “lifted up” and was “drawn to Him”. He embraced the Cruciform love that was lavished on him and was able to turn and lavish it onto others. Even those who considered him an enemy. In doing this, he again unleashed its power into the world and became an example that Cross-shaped Love remains a force to be reckoned with.
May we look to the Christ who was lifted up and see cross-shaped love. May we receive it and disperse it and be agents of its lasting power.
Written by Eloy Gonzalez, BHITC’s Manager of Ministry Engagement & Coordinator of Men’s & Family Care at The Hope Center
You can connect with Eloy at email@example.com.