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Sharing the five ‘R’s’ of love

Several years ago there was an inter-faith global gathering of youth. This gathering brought together young people from all parts of the world. They represented many religious persuasions and wore apparel that represented the various cultures.

There was one young person from a non-Christian country who was very anxious to see and meet a Christian. Upon her arrival, however, she became confused with all the variety.

She asked, “How can you tell which ones are Christians? What are the identifying marks? When you meet a Christian, how can you tell one?”

Now, these are excellent questions, and difficult to answer, especially if one is looking for some physical identifying marks. How can you tell if the person standing in the lunch line is a Christian? How can you tell if the teacher is a Christian?

For Christians, our identifying mark goes much deeper than some physical mark or garb.

Jesus told us what our identifying mark would be.

For the rest of this article I want to share with you the five “R’s”’of authentic love.

First, love is requirement. For Jesus, love was not an option. He didn’t say, “Let me suggest that you love one another.” No! He said, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another.”

By understanding that love is a requirement, it may help us to realize that authentic love goes beyond feelings. Love is a command, a strategy for changing the world.

Second, love is risky. A song that was popular a few years ago asked in half-playful fashion, “What do you get when you fall in love?-and after listing some of the disappointments love brings, concluded with the phrase, “I’ll never fall in love again.”

When we first received love, we think that all of love’s lessons are beautiful. But we usually learn before too long that there is a price for love. That love is risky, and we can get hurt.

Third, love is responsible. A certain father recognized he had failed in his responsibility toward his son. His son was about to graduate from medical school. So this father got on a plane, flew to the East coast, and took his son to lunch.

Before that father arrived back home, his son had called. He said, “Mom, I met with dad today. It was the finest day of my life.” Love is responsible.

Fourth, love is repayment. The late Ellsworth Kalas says that “love requires repayment.” The person who doesn’t pass along love will finally lose the love that he/she received. Love is a kind of spiritual manna, keep it too long and it will decay.

Now, I’m not sure I loved my parents as much as they loved me, but I have had the opportunity of repaying my parents love by the way I’ve loved my children and grandchildren.

Fifth, love is rewarding. That’s the way love works. Give love away, and it will be rewarding.

A minister friend was describing the loving influence his grandmother had on his life. He said she died of cancer when he was only twelve, but she had an enormous influence on the way he views and lives his life. In conclusion, this friend said of his grandmother, “She would be pleased to know that after all the passing years, her indomitable spirit and beautiful wisdom lives on.” Love is rewarding,

So what did Jesus say? He said, “By this”-authentic love-“they will know…”