Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.
I alone am the Lord, the only one who can save you.
-Isaiah 43:11 (GNTA)
Joseph and I are searching for the balance between these two verses* and their application to our family. And we’re trying to do it without growing weary or bitter.
Our call to love – even our enemies – is not hyperbole. If we are to be as Christ is, dying for us while we were yet sinners, then I’m definitely not off the hook to love my own son. However, I must always balance the call to love Asher with a clear understanding that I am never called to save him.
That line can easily become blurry.
For instance, Asher has again asserted that he is a homosexual. The fact that a new peer was recently added to his group and began grooming our son before staff were made aware of the situation and separated them is, according to Asher, immaterial. The fact that he still deals with untreated sexual reactivity (as a victim) within the confines of an all-male cottage is ignored. The idea that we know, from this very situation, that feelings do not represent facts or appropriate truths, is also denied. Asher is confused and, at 15 years old, has little concept of a greater reality than the one he currently experiences.
We are now left to puzzle through how to love him while not trying to save him. And how to balance our desire to care for him with a human tendency to believe our decisions carry the same weight as God’s.
Because sometimes loving Asher means separating ourselves from his harmful, toxic, or callous behaviors – while Christ will never leave us… no matter how ugly we are while wallowing in our sin.
*I recognize that the first verse is spoken by Jesus and in the verses that follow, He details the direct intention of those words. Jesus is going to take upon Himself the penalty of death that His friends rightly deserve and by doing so show them the ultimate picture of love. And since His sacrifice does not merely delay the penalty but cancels it, we can surely see how this is the ultimate picture of love. But I believe that verse encapsulates a picture of brotherly love we, as fallen humans, are also called to have towards our fellow man. There are numerous passages and verses that explicitly and implicitly express the mandate to care for, regard, defer to, and sacrifice for those people God puts in your life – friends and foes alike. So, I believe I’m within the bounds of proper hermeneutics to use John 15:13 as a capstone verse for the ways our family is called to sacrifice in caring for Asher.