Those who get their pictures on the Wheaties box do so because they have performed well in some athletic venue. We fans pay close attention to these ‘heroes’ because of their performance, and we ‘adore’ them. We are good at it.
So good at it, that we transfer such performance based adoration to all other relationships. We love others when they perform well for us and meet our expectations. Our children hit home runs in little league or bring home a sterling report card or otherwise measure up to our standards, and we are all over them with favor. Our wives act according to the notions we have regarding what a wife is to do, whatever that might be, and we are quick with words of love and affection. And our churches or pastors do for us what we expect them to do, and we are their biggest champions.
Such love is easy, but fleeting and ultimately unfulfilling.
For pictures do not remain on the box forever, and those we ‘love’ will some day fail us. When the pictures fall off the Wheaties box, our adulation disappears. The child suddenly hears no words of encouragement, but only words of disappointment and scorn. The wife stops meeting her husband’s standards, and thus stops hearing from him endearing words (as he looks for another woman who will meet his standards). And the church becomes another disposable commodity, not a collection a relationships to be cherished and worked through.
So strange this should be true of us who claim to know something about the gospel of Jesus Christ. When Christ gave his life for us, our pictures were hanging elsewhere than on the Wheaties box. Yet he loved us. And he still does. Christ looks at us with a deep affection, sacrifice, and love that is unrelated to our performance. I fail him and his love for me never changes. For him it does not matter how well we perform, it does not matter where our picture is placed. He still loves us.
We need to see this deeply so that our love for others might be freed and transformed. Only then will we show genuine affection to our spouse or our children or our friends, an affection given not because they perform well for us or satisfy us, but because they are those we want to love. Period.
If we only love when our spouse or child or church is worthy of Wheaties box notice, we will never be freed to love out of reverence for Christ.