Love Walked Among Us: Learning to Love Like Jesus by Paul Miller
If the main marker of a disciple is love, we should probably learn how to do it properly. This simple and beautiful primer beckons us to get an up-close view of the way Jesus interacted with those around Him. Readers will inevitably encounter some uncomfortable truths, but Paul’s personable “been there, done that” style makes it easy to let our guard down. He covers extremely practical topics like love’s common obstacles, when love needs to say no, and how love sometimes requires anger. Incarnating Christ’s heart for people isn’t the least bit mushy (though it might lead to genuine softness in the best sense of the word). There’s a quiet strength in loving like Jesus, and it’s work only God can do.
A few especially memorable quotes:
Jesus has shown us how to love: Look, feel, and then help. If we help someone but don’t take the time to look at the person and feel what he or she is feeling, our love is cold. And if we look and feel, but don’t do what we can to help, our love is cheap. Love does both.
Love, I realized, is not efficient.
Loving means losing control of our schedule, our money, and our time. When we love we cease to be the master and become a servant.
The better we think we are, the less we can love.
It’s tough to love people when they constantly come into your space, demanding attention. But if we are always in control, deciding whom and when we will love, then we risk having a weak imitation of love.
Jesus is drawn to people who are in the low place. He loves those at the bottom. Why? Because that’s where He is … We can feel safe in the low place because God lives there.
Scars. The wounds of love. What a strange God, who doesn’t remain aloof, but enters our world and becomes wounded.
My big takeaway from this book is how crucial the ministry of gracious honesty can be. “If we abandon truth telling, we allow people to hurt themselves or others with their own willfulness.” Because I’m emotionally allergic to confrontation and conflict, I’d prefer almost anything else over bringing an issue out into the open. But according to Paul, my avoidance isn’t love; it’s fear. I’m giving my need for false peace permission to dominate the relationship, regardless of the damage occurring around me. This doesn’t mean I have to go airing all of my complaints without discrimination, though—”Jesus’ honest confrontation was always ‘for’ people.” Posturing my heart for the good of others (rather than for my own good/comfort/ego) is the key to loving when life gets messy.
Ten journaling questions inspired by the text:
- Where have I been blocking compassion in my life because it is too costly?
- When I personalize the Pharisee’s prayer from Luke 18 (“God, I thank You that I am not like __________!”), how do I fill in the blank?
- Where am I behaving as if Jesus is powerless to help me?
- What are the red flags that can prompt my heart to do some “beam research” (removing the beam from my own eye by asking how I do the same thing)?
- When I’ve lost sight of the love of God in my heart, how do I steal love from other sources?
- Where do I look for compliments, “little pieces of glory”?
- If “humiliation is the situation where we learn humility,” what moments of my story might God want to redeem by teaching me through hindsight?
- What would a normal day look like if I were ruled by love?
- How has Jesus loved me?
- Where should I stop loving with words and start loving with deeds?