Confession: I possess an unhealthy love for Baz Luhrmanns's Moulin Rouge. It’s got the “Spectacular Spectacular” dance pieces, an absurd soundtrack to accompany 19th century Bohemian Paris, chaotic cinematography, and oh-so-deliciously over the top performances from Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor.
And deeply embedded in the movie’s frenetic energy is a wonderful lesson rooted in the Bohemian ideals of Beauty, Truth, Freedom, and above all else, Love:
|The greatest thing you'll ever learn,|
is just to love and be loved in return.
YES. ROMANTIC. But may I make a suggestion? Perhaps our starving artists in Montmarte had it backwards. Perhaps an even truer lesson is this:
The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just be loved and simply love in return.
Learn to receive love - give love in return. This, my friends, is the good news of the Gospel:
In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us...We love because [God] first loved us.
(1 John 4:10-12, 19 ESV)
And I find that the first clause - “be loved” - is actually harder than to give love. An old friend once asked me: “Do you believe that God loves you, as you are, right now, no questions asked?” And the answer for me is sometimes, “No.” I find myself thinking, “God, You can’t love me.”
I’m impulsive and stubborn.
My past is too dirty.
My sin is too deep.
My story is too complicated.
My (homo)sexuality screws everything up.
And God kindly responds, “No, son. I love you. You are mine.”
What I would not give to rest in that love, but it’s hard. All Jesus asks us to do is simply believe that He loves us, but we’ve convinced ourselves that it’s necessary to work for His love. All the Psalmist asks us to do is to be quiet and know that He is Lord, but we feel the implacable need to blabber on aimlessly in prayer. And when we’re not trying to earn God’s blessings, we’re trying to convince ourselves that we can’t have His love.
Yet the Promise remains true - we’re loved first by God. That’s it. You are loved; end of story. Even as I write those words, I feel in my spirit, “Yeah, I know, but...” No buts! You are loved - what's more, His love is perfected in you.
And from that deep well of love, you can draw forth living water to give to those who are hungry, thirsty, lonely, and hurting.
Those Bohemians got so much right at the Moulin Rouge - the Gospel teaches us to value Beauty, Truth, Freedom, and above all other things, Love. Today, take some time to rest in God’s everlasting love for you.
Until next time,