Love Beyond Quick Fixes

As a kid, I was infamous for shortcuts, especially when it came to hems that happened to be coming loose. More than once, I would hear an exasperated exclamation (usually my name was somewhere in it), when my mom had found yet another one of my makeshift solutions in one of my pants legs or along my skirt hem while she was doing the laundry. Duct tape, scotch tape, even staples. I knew how to sew, but I wasn’t convinced that a stitch in time would save nine if tape would serve equally as well. If the repair work was unseen, what did it matter if it was shiny industrial fibers laden with glue or the complicated effort of a needle with matching thread?

My quick fixes, however, haven’t been limited to hems. Probably the least effective was the time I tried to use art glue to reattach the high heel to the base of a favorite pair of dress shoes. It had been a long day at the school where I worked, and I still had an evening event to get through before calling it a day. The shoe barely made it through the evening, and went promptly into the trash can once I got home. 

Over the years, I have learned that creative, temporary solutions may suffice for a moment, but they don’t have the durability to withstand the long-term wear and tear of everyday life. Wisdom has taught me that while I may need to grab a safety pin now and then, the real work of redeeming a torn piece of clothing or a broken shoe requires something more than a quick fix.
Spiritually, the lesson has not been lost on me. 

In the hard places of life, though, I have been like those who welcomed Jesus triumphantly but didn’t want the cost to go any deeper. I have been guilty of simply wanting my presence on the side of the road leading to Jerusalem to be sufficient. I am willing to come out with the crowd (as long as it’s not too crowded), stand on the side of the road (as long as it’s not too long), shout with excitement (as long as it doesn’t attract too much attention). Some days, I’m even willing to lay my coat in the dirt on the road (Matthew 21:8-11). 

In the frailty of my flesh, I want to serve the God who will give me the answer I am longing for, change my circumstances quickly, and instantaneously reform all that is broken in me. If I am honest, I want to be saved, healed and made new, all without the necessary death. I’m not alone in my struggle. We look for churches where the services don’t go too long, the relationships don’t get too messy, and whatever “cost” of serving Jesus will always be exciting, not to mention fitting to the narrative of the culture around us.

But Christ is so much more than a duct tape Jesus.  

Redemption requires sacrifice.

The message of the Cross stands radiant and clear: Christ died for me. It’s a truth I have known and lived in most of my life. His death and resurrection finished all that was and is needed for me to experience the wholeness of God. But His sacrifice is so extravagantly compelling that it must be answered with another. 

Jesus invites me to do more than celebrate His goodness. He invites me to the Cross. I, too, must die (Galatians 2:20)—in my expectations of a world centered on me, in my hopes of a painless path. And especially in my desire for quick fixes. 

Walking out this understanding of the death of self, though, is a daily paradox. Christ has done all that is needed, and it is His grace that calls me to lay down all that I am. My choice to die is not an earning of His love; it is a response to the revelation of His love.

In all my years of loving Jesus, I wish I could say I always intuitively know the meaning of sacrifice separated from the works of self. Sometimes, though, that word, sacrifice, has been difficult for me to understand. My flesh—who I am without Christ—looks for a formula to follow, an expectation to meet. My desire for perfection strives against the work of the Cross, and I get caught up in trying to be enough. Intentions get lost in the nuance of my words and actions. 

Adding to that complexity are the relationships we have with other believers who are also on a journey to understand what it means to be a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1). More than once, I have been the recipient of a skewed message about what it means to lay down my life, and I do not doubt that I have unwittingly been that messenger to someone else along the way. Well intentioned though the message may be, sacrificing for Jesus does not entail a lack of safety—emotional, psychological, or spiritual. Sometimes, especially when it came to people I really respected or admired, I equated others’ expectations of me with laying down my life for Jesus. Physical exhaustion, incorrectly defined generosity, and addiction to approval cannot bring us into intimacy with God.

Only Christ can make us whole. 

This side of heaven will always be a shadowed understanding (1 Corinthians 13:12), and I am pretty sure I will still be learning to rightly appreciate what sacrifice means until I take my last breath. I am, however, confident in this: love without sacrifice isn’t really love, and sacrifice without love is little more than dead religion (Ephesians 5:2, Colossians 2:23). 

In all its beauty and mystery, the love of God cannot be undone. With a power than cannot be earned, its expanse is beyond measure:

Could we with ink the ocean fill,

and were the skies of parchment made;

were ev’ry stalk on earth a quill,

and ev’ryone a scribe by trade;

to write the love of God above

would drain the ocean dry;

nor could the scroll contain the whole,

though stretched from sky to sky.1

It is, after all, a love stronger than death (John 3:16). 

  1. Frederick M. Lehman, “The Love of God” (1917),,

    —Written by Regina Franklin. Used by permission from the author.