Mark D. Roberts

Mark D. Roberts

The Long View of Love

Many years ago I found myself in a conflict with a fellow leader in my church. Though I tried everything I could think of to bring reconciliation, I failed. As he was leaving our church, he made sure that many people knew of my shortcomings, or what he perceived to be my shortcomings, at any rate. Some of what he said was probably correct; much of it was unfair. In response to his attacks on me and my character, I wanted desperately to bring this man down, to tell the congregation – no, the whole world – what a nasty person he had been to me. In those days the biblical call to love didn’t seem like a guide for better living. It felt instead like a huge anchor hung around my neck to keep me from sailing where I wanted to head.


More out of a sense of duty to God than anything else, I resolved to love this man to the limits of my ability, and beyond, I prayed, by God’s own strength. So I made sure that my public communications about this man were always positive. I said things about him that were true and kept the negative to myself (and a couple of trusted friends). It was really hard to do this!

I wish I could tell you that my efforts brought reconciliation with this brother. They did not. And I wish I could tell you that everybody in the church realized what a godly saint I was being in contrast to the other man. They didn’t, and some left the church over this incident. If I look at this event only from a short-term perspective, love seemed to lose the day. It seemed naïve and self-defeating to love, perhaps even injurious to the church I was seeking to pastor. But if I look at what happened in light of eternity, I believe that the choice to love was the right one. If nothing else, God was honored by my modest efforts to follow Jesus. Moreover, the painful choice to love helped me grow in my own faith and discipleship. I became more like Christ in some small way, not only in that moment, but also in my eternal soul. Moreover, those in my church who knew the truth, and that included many of my key leaders, saw in my example something that encouraged and instructed them.


Lest I appear to be bragging, let me say that I have often failed to follow Jesus in the way of love. I could collect a lineup of people who would bear witness to my ample failures. And I surely failed in many ways during the season of testing I’m describing now. But God’s grace is able to touch even a person like me. If he can help me to love when I really don’t want to, when my fallen nature says “Get even,” when my pride says, “Bring him down,” then God can help you as well.

So often we Christians have narrow, short-term vision. We look at today as if it’s everything. Yet if we step back and get some perspective, if we look at our lives from God’s point of view, if we think about the fact that God holds all of history in his capable hands, then we’ll be able to live according to eternal priorities. And from this angle, the greatest thing of all is love. (Photo: My grandparents and me about 25 years ago. They were married well over fifty years, with a long-term, committed love.)


Ama-Pop-MRD-5.jpgOne of my favorite things to do as a pastor is to help couples celebrate their fiftieth wedding anniversaries. There’s something tender about recognizing love that has lasted over the long haul. Often these events are quite romantic as well, and romance of this sort doesn’t worry me in the least. In fact I think it’s great, well, most of the time, anyway. A few years ago I was talking to the wife of the couple whose anniversary we were celebrating. “I’ll bet ‘Jim’ loves you more now than he did fifty years ago,” I said. The woman’s answer just about knocked me over, “Well, he certainly seemed to feel that way last night in bed!” Yeow, I thought, that’s just great, and I’m really happy for you. But that was too much information! Nevertheless, I know that this marriage was sustained by much more than moments of passionate fervor. It lasted because of the sacrificial commitment of both the husband and the wife. Their love, a 1 Corinthians 13 kind of love, had been good for the long haul.

May God help us to give real love its rightful place in our lives. May we learn now to love now in a way that will last forever.

  • Dan Rodger

    Yeah this whole situation is very close to my wife’s heart at the moment so its good to hear what this sort of situation is like from the leaders perspective.
    I agree with you, way too much information haha 😛

  • Priya Antony

    Great stuff,
    I had a similar experience with someone and god led me the same way just like he did to you.Everday I ask god the same question why did he allow it and more than that why did he want me to be good to him.
    One thing I know for sure I got changed in the process.

  • Mylantea

    I too can relate with this story, however the pastor that did it to me was my mother. I love my mother very much, more times then not I have taken full care of her sickly body. May times I myself have asked God what that is about, and he told me to read Matthew 22. After reading I understood that no matter what I have to love this person. More importantly it put me on a path to be closer to God. He wants us to obey him, he needs us to love him first and our bretheren as well. GOD BLESS

  • Elijah A, Alexander, Jr.

    Because the term translated into church actually means “the called out of” the world people who have accepted the teachings of Jesus to become wandering sowers going forth to sow messengers (John 3:8, Mark 4:3-9 & Matthew 28:19) are about people who have learned to love others as they love themselves.
    My experience in loving others as I love myself, I find that the attributes I see in others are within myself, I’ve experienced them in other incarnations, and for me to hate others demonstrating that attribute is to hate myself. The difference in us is they are controlled by their attribute when I have mine integrated into my other attributes and flesh which I control (Genesis 2:24).

  • David J. Lovejoy, Ph.D.

    I honestly wish I could say that I was going to see A 50TH anniversary! But I will not. In less then a year of marriage, my wife left, and divorced me. throughout our period of seperation, I continually showed her that I loved her. I did the “Love Dare” on her after we saw the movie “Fireproof”. I even asked after she looked at the book, if she wanted to do “The Love Dare for couples” and she said yes, so I bought the book….we only made it five days into the book before she threw me out.
    Sometimes it dosent matter how much you love someone, they still have their own freewill. But at least you know you were obidiant to our Savior!

  • Dave Benroe

    Well, I believe what you are saying. It’s not easy to practise Christ-like love: one need grace.
    When I got married to my wife, I promised myself that I will love her with everything I have according to Eph. 5:25.
    It is this love that I have to extend to my children. How?
    Before I got married, I don’t go to church although I am a Bible reader. My wife tried her best to invite me to Church and I tried going reluctantly. But when my children started growing I discovered that my little boy of 4 years (then) started complaining about not going to Church.
    Then I knew if I don’t want my offspring to follow my footstep of not knowing God I have to change. I decided to drop all my non-charlant attitude and started changing my orientation.
    These days, I read Bible with my children, teach them about Godly affairs, inducing in them how to be good children, companions, friends and citizens.
    All these are borne out of the love I have for them. It’s a great sacrifice which I am now enjoying the benefit. I am now a better parent, good christian, H.O.D. in my Church’s Prayer Ministry.
    The same thing can be induced into every aspect of out life.

  • Dave

    I was asked to turn in my key and never enter the home again by a wife of 36 years. Later she died of cancer. I am convinced the nasties got her.
    I loved her to the day she died and would gladly have gone back to her. In fact we met several times and I pleaded to reconcile. It is not easy when a person has their mind made up to give up on another human being. All we can do is try and accept the outcome.
    I hope to see her again in heaven.

  • ClarenceG

    My wife and I both turned age 62 over past two months. We still enjoy celebrating a deep and passionate love for each other (forty+ years now) frequently (though maybe not as frequent as the past)in
    bed as well as through out each day. We began a family on day one, raised four children, and for years helped raising grandchildren, until we moved about 400 miles away. Since our move, we have rediscovered each other, and since have been able to devote almost exclusive attention to each other, something that we missed in the early days of our relationship. With us, it was love at first sight; just took me awhile to realize that it was love. The intense love we feel for each other is the glue to keeps us together.

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