Love Stinks

Maybe the J. Geils Band had it right- “Love Stinks.” In their song by the same name, their group laments that when you open yourself up to love another individual, you will almost inevitably have your heart broken at some point. In middle school, I thought I had it all figured out. I would become a hermit and live in a remote cabin in the woods. Keep in mind I grew up in the 1990s, long before the current trend of off-grid living had taken root. I came to this novel conclusion about remote living because it seemed easier than dealing with other humans. People are a part of life, but they come with their fair share of issues, and for a middle school-aged boy, the logical choice is removing the root of the problem, and that catalyst is the other people.
I hope you don’t misunderstand my sentiment. It is not that I don’t love people because, in fact, I love people so much that I will inevitably get hurt by them. Some have learned this through trial and error and will keep their relationships shallow and superficial. More people operate in this regard because we have all learned at some point that if we trust someone, they will betray our trust.
This is the archetype of Jesus and Judas. Allowing someone into your inner circle of relationships, knowing full well they will betray you and your confidence. I wonder how often that reality played into the disciples’ minds after Jesus ascended to Heaven. As the gospel spread throughout the world, there was always the possibility that someone would harm or hurt them, yet they spread the gospel near and far anyway. They could do this because of the example of Jesus- loving Judas in every situation. 
This is why we call this message the “Good News” that Christ died for us even while we were backstabbing enemies.
Romans 5:7-11 – “Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11 Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”
From a human perspective, you might be willing to help a good or possibly a righteous person (although “righteous” people are more challenging to deal with), but no one dies for an enemy. It is ludicrous even to fathom the idea of trading your life for someone who is actively against you. And yet, time and time again, we read that this is the message of Christ: giving your life self-sacrificially for others- regardless of what they may do to you in the end.
Valentine’s Day is only a few days away when we champion love in its most romantic forms. However, the “Day of Love” often creates tension as people either feel rejected, forgotten, or confounded by the practices of love. The Day will cause many others to bemoan that “Love Stinks.” And yes, from a purely humanistic point of view, love can be painful. And the deeper the love, the more pain it can cause.
Our example of Jesus experienced the most painful display of love. But hopefully, that doesn’t make you give up on love. That would be the easy way out. It would be easiest to escape to a remote cabin and disappear from a world filled with not-so-good people. However, that would contradict the message of the cross and the good news it brings. Therefore, we love the unlovable even when it stinks- becoming a beautifully fragrant aroma not to ourselves but for God.
Ephesians 5:1-2 – “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; 2 and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.”
Love has a smell, but it definitely does not stink.

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