Learning to Love

“We’ve learned to fly the air as birds, to swim the seas as fish, yet we haven’t learned to walk the earth as brothers and sisters.”


These words from Dr. King danced across my heart today.

Lately, I’ve become more aware than usual of the tension between my own brokenness and the reality that God has made me new. He has certainly done a work in my heart, not just a “work” but a full transplant, so that the core of who I am is good. The most accurate version of myself, you could call it my “true self”, wants desperately to love and do good, but that isn’t always my day-to-day experience. And the more I learn to love deeply, the more I see how shallow and fragile my love often is.

This morning, I stumbled across a profound verse from the Gospels.

I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them. ~Jesus, John 17:26

This took me by surprise. Wait a minute, Jesus Himself is going to live inside of me? The idea struck me so deeply, I had to put down my book and let it soak in. When I read the same verse later that afternoon, another mystery revealed itself. This verse talks not only about Jesus Himself living inside of us, but about the same love that God has for Jesus living inside of us as well.

So, why isn’t that always my experience?

The first portion of this verse says that Jesus has made God the Father known to us, and will continue to make Him known to us. This has already taken place; yet, Jesus is still continuing to do it. My heart has already been made good, but Jesus is still teaching me how to use it, instead of using my head all the time. I’ve learned how to love, but I’m still learning how to love. The Kingdom is “now,” but also “not yet.” It’s a tension, to be sure, but the tensions are where Grace meets us.

“…so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.” As we read this prayer of the Apostle Paul, let us pause, let us pause right there and let that sink in, the reality that through faith, Christ Himself can dwell in the new hearts He gave us. And then, as we read on, let us take in the reality of being “rooted and established in love,” so that we can somehow possess the power to understand the depths of the love of Christ, a love which is so deep it cannot actually be understood with human logic or intellect. That Paul would have the audacity to pray that we might understand a love that cannot be understood only adds to the tension, so that we must conclude that there are two types of “knowing,” a knowing with our minds, and a knowing with our hearts.

Jesus has made the heart of the Father known to me, and He continues to do so, that the love of the Father might find a place in my heart, that Jesus Himself might dwell there. As I experience more and more of this love, it will become the root system that will establish my soul, so that I can grow in my understanding of the love of God and therefore live it out more consistently. I have been taught how to love; yet, I am still learning, and the more I learn about love, the more I realize I have barely scratched the surface. (Adapted from John 17:26, Ephesians 3:17-19, NIV)

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