What Does Extreme Love Look Like?

I was captivated by an article this week that told 14 stories of what I call “extreme love.”[1]   As I read, I tried to put myself in the situation of the characters and found myself asking, “What would I have done?  Would I have had the courage and resolve to love as extremely as those being described in the stories?”   I share one story.

In June of 1996 in Ann Arbor, a fairly liberal town in southeastern Michigan, the Ku Klux Klan scheduled a rally at city hall.  When locals heard the news, 300 protestors, including Keshia Thomas, an 18 year-old African American woman, turned up to counter the KKK.  A mere 17 Klansmen participated in the rally, grossly outnumbered by the protestors. When one white supremacist got mixed in with the counter-demonstration, the event turned violent, with the KKK member falling to the ground getting kicked and beaten with sticks.

People shouted “Kill the Nazi” and it could have turned deadly if not for Thomas, who jumped on top of the man to protect him from the mob’s blows.  She very well could have saved the life of a man who was there to actively promote hate of people like her — a man who might not have cared whether she herself lived or died.

If that is not extreme love, I don’t know what is!  Extreme love is not a sentimental, sappy and gushy kind of love.  Extreme love is to put yourself at risk for the welfare of the other(s) even if you don’t like the other(s) – even if you hate the other(s) – even if the other(s) hate you!   Yes, I believe it is possible to act with love, even when you feel hatred!

If the gospel is about anything at all, it is about extreme love.  Extreme love is what Jesus was all about.  It is one of the ways I would characterize his life and ministry as we engage it in the gospels.  When Jesus issued the invitation to his disciples, “follow me,” he was challenging them into a life of extreme love.

I have to ask myself, “Do I daily live with a consciousness that I, as a follower of Jesus, am being called to embody extreme love?”  Am I then willing to challenge myself to love with extreme love when the opportunity presents itself – and it will – it always does.

Let extreme love take expression in your life!


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