Most of us grew up dreaming of a day when we would have someone special to love. That pursuit often revealed our imperfections. We desperately wanted to be loved and to love another, but at what price? The true cost of love is vulnerability.

Madeleine L’Engle said,

When we were children, we used to think that when we were grown-up we would no longer be vulnerable. But to grow up is to accept vulnerability... To be alive is to be vulnerable.[1]

Mature love accepts its own vulnerability and that of another without fear.

So where does our love come from? Is love something that can be learned? Can we be influenced and changed in ways that increase our loving capacity?

1 John 4:
19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.

If you are to learn to love perfectly, it will happen because you have been first loved perfectly. We cannot give away what we have not first received. Love does not originate in a void, but is first imparted from another. This is how we learn the ways of love.

No one has loved better than Jesus. After Peter had completely bailed out on Jesus and denied his love three times on the night of the arrest, Peter had days of shame and regret. Jesus came to him quietly on a beach and restored the rightful place of love in their relationship.

John 21:
15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “You know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”

We learn from Jesus that love enters into the shared space of vulnerability. Three offences require three reinstatements of value and purpose.

I would say, “Yes, we can learn to love in a more perfect way.” That is at the heart of God’s good news for the world. So how then can we enter into sacred space in our encounters with the most vulnerable? Everything we need to know about loving conflicted people is illustrated in Jesus’ life.


[1] Madeleine L’Engle, Walking On Water, ©1980