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Perfect Love
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I took a deep breath and sighed it out, laying back helplessly. That word, helpless, described me perfectly at that moment. I sat up to look at my friend on the other side of the empty chapel, sitting in the pew across from mine, then lay down again. It’s never an easy experience when one’s comfortable bubble of spiritual clichés is burst.

That Friday night was the last of the bible study meetings that Lily and I had been attending. And I had never been so spiritually challenged in what felt like… ever. I have to admit that I was disappointed when I heard that the night’s topic would be ‘love’, but the disappointment didn’t last long. The leader began by mercilessly shattering all that we knew about God’s love by showing us that everything we knew we took only as empty facts, and empty facts did not lead to action.

As I lay on that empty pew, I wrestled with the thought that had been tormenting me all through that week: I make a pretty good Pharisee. I’m golden when it comes to following the rules and memorizing Bible verses, but a deeper look tells me that my words and “deep” thoughts get me nowhere. I’m all talk, I told myself. I’m no closer to God than before I discovered my newest metaphor, than before I tried to reach God with knowledge.

Good Pharisee

I like to know things, I need to know things. It’s my favorite thing about myself, and my biggest fla­­w. (Like I said, I make a pretty good Pharisee.) Even worse, ­I use my knowledge as a shield from God. Knowing things is so, so much easier than surrendering to God’s knowledge and admitting that you don’t know anything. Coming up with a good metaphor for God’s love is so much easier than surrendering to it. I’m all talk, I repeated as I held back my tears.

I’m just scared, I admitted to myself, and then to my friend who was patiently going through my battle with me. But of what? Suddenly, my mind flashed to one of the verses we had read that night. “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love‚Ä®” (1 John 4:18).

Perfect love. I knew in my heart that I had not experienced perfect love; that I had not allowed myself to be transformed by God’s love. I had kept Him at a comfortable distance, and perfect love cannot transform from a comfortable distance. If I am scared, of whatever it may be that I am scared of, it’s because I haven’t realized yet the awesome power of God’s love. Unlike empty facts, God’s perfect love is love in action. Unlike my empty knowledge, if I am transformed by God’s love, something will come out of it.

The leader that night challenged us to become so transformed by God’s love that people could tell, without us saying a single word, that the love of God lives in us. God’s love is that strong. God’s love transforms, radiates, and turns knowledge into action. God’s love is nothing short of perfect.
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By Raquel Levy. Copyright © 2010 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from the NEW KING JAMES VERSION © 1982.

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