by Jessica Robbins
This past quarter, I had the privilege of facilitating a small group study for a tiny band of PenHOPpers. The book of choice was “Keep Your Love On” by Danny Silk. It focuses on connection, communication and boundaries in relation to loving one another.
In the introduction Danny states, “Keep Your Love On is a mindset. It is a heart condition. It’s something no one can make you do and no one can keep you from doing … keeping your love on creates fearlessness and deep vulnerability.”
As the book goes on, he continually emphasizes our responsibility as individuals in pursuing connection with others and that we must be “powerful people” and not victims of circumstances.
For me, the book hits on what I’d call “loving rightly.” It gets back to the basics of what true love is and what it should look like in our every day, nitty gritty lives.
In our postmodern society the definition of being a loving person can be as different as the people in the world. Love has become equated with tolerance, political correctness and the idea that being loving means never offending anyone.
My friends, this is just not accurate. What does God say? What is His standard? How can we sort through the lies and noise produced by culture and get to the truth?
1 John 4:7–21 has some great insights on what godly love looks like. I’ll pull out one highlight from verses 18–19:-
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us.”
Here we see that love is stronger than fear, and also that we are only able to love others because God has loved us first. Sometimes we may think that we are loving people, but if our motivations are all fear-based then that’s a pretty good sign that there is a lack of love filling us and flowing out from us.
Love does not mean compromising truth. Love does not mean saying “yes” to every good thing. Love does not mean taking care of everyone else and not yourself. Love does not always mean saving others from the consequence of their own actions.
In a nutshell, Danny Silk says that to love rightly means that I am to always seek connection by “keeping my love on” towards others. I listen with the goal of understanding other people. This involves healthy communication and boundaries. It involves heaps of self-control and taking full responsibility for our own actions.
As we went through the book one thing kept coming back to me: identity.
There is just no way to love others selflessly and unconditionally the way that God does unless my identity is firmly rooted as a daughter of God. We absolutely cannot love rightly if we have not allowed the love of God to fill us. We will be drawing from an empty well. As believers and carriers of God’s love, we must be equipped with the proper skills to communicate love properly and so others more easily receive it. If we truly know the God who created us and, therefore, know who are in and through Him, then we can boldly love others.
Love must be more than a feeling and an abstract thing that we’re reaching for. Like everything in life it is something that we can continually grown in and we must develop ways to communicate it properly.
I’ve had a sort of “awakening” this past year in my spiritual journey. I’ve witnessed God come in and do miraculous things relationally and work reconciliation far beyond what I thought possible. The end result was awesome, but the road there was quite painful and rocky.
In the midst of it all I sensed the Lord whispering something to me, “You must give Me space to move.”
Point being: God is always there desiring to bring healing and reconciliation but a lot of the time we’re too busy clinging to our perceived control and wallowing in our pride and bitterness to give Him the space He desires to work.
It may be awkward or humbling to have pointed conversations with people and work towards keeping our love on, but let me just tell you, it is so worth it. We must kick pride and fear to the curb and courageously press on towards love and reconciliation and connection with people.
It’s past time for the body of Christ to do the hard things. It’s time to give ample space to the Holy Spirit and to equip ourselves to love one another rightly. We must be awakened to the reality that love is far more than a feeling or an emotion or tolerance. True love requires action. It means pushing through awkwardness and pain in order to understand and heal and walk in deep connection with one another.
As our small group dove into the truths of loving rightly and personal responsibility, we began to see more clearly lies that we believed and relation dysfunction within our families, cell groups and ministries. Sometimes it was a bit overwhelming; there seemed to be a lot of work to do and a lot of heart change that needed to happen.
Overall though, I’d say we walked out of that last meeting together feeling hopeful, strengthened and empowered. We had a few more tools in our tool belts to work with, and we knew the broken places that needed attention in our own hearts and in our various circles.
I passionately believe that this lifestyle of keeping our love on is vital to us as believers. It’s a completely different mindset and culture than what the world is offering. It means being real and honest and raw. It means taking the harder road less traveled, but it also means greater measures of intimacy and love and connection with those we’re walking with.
I believe that as we continue to equip ourselves to love one another rightly, we will see healthier and stronger individuals loving courageously and impacting culture. This will result in transformation in our homes, in our friend groups and in our cell groups and churches that will ultimately transform nations for the gospel.
The days of walking around in the relational shallow end are over! Let’s dive in deep and experience what real love actually is.
“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought also to lay down our lives for the brothers … Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and truth.” 1 John 3:16, 18