If I…do not have love, I gain nothing. —1 Corinthians 13:3b

In his book, No Perfect People Allowed, my friend John Burke offers a beautiful metaphor for understanding what it’s like to be a human being. We are, each one of us, a unique and beautiful masterpiece, says John, a glorious work of art crafted by God for His pleasure and our delight. But, he adds, we are masterpieces splattered with mud … mud that hides some of our God-given beauty and distracts us from the beauty beneath.

If you came upon a masterwork of art – say, a Picasso or Van Gogh – coated in mud, you wouldn’t judge it harshly or scrape haphazardly at the unsightly mud in disgust, would you? Of course not … because it is a masterpiece. You would treat it with care. You would treat it with love. You would be careful. You would be gentle. You would know that the thing you are holding is priceless, and the mud does nothing to diminish that fact.

And yet, many people try to change, not because they love the masterpiece of who they are, but because they hate the mud. This is a self-destructive fuel for change, and though it may produce some results, they rarely last, and the damage wreaked on their soul is far greater than any external benefit that may be gained. You cannot better the world by hating the world. You cannot better yourself by hating yourself. For real and lasting change to come, whether in your life or in the world, love is only fuel that matters.

Love sees the masterpiece beneath the mud. And this is what drives it to act. There is no greater power than this. There is no more effective means of change.

Love … always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. —1 Corinthians 13:7-8

Love is inexhaustible.

We’ve covered in previous posts the other elements you need for change: Anger, A Crystal Clear Dream, Faith, A Solid Plan. But for change to truly come, love must cover it all. Love for yourself. Love for the world. Even love for the mud you are working to remove. Love, above all other things, is key to change. Because there is no obstacle, there is no weapon, there is no pain or injury or injustice in the world, that Love cannot overcome.

There is no difficulty that enough love will not conquer;
no disease that enough love will not heal;
no door that enough love will not open;
no gulf that enough love will not bridge;
no wall that enough love will not throw down;
no sin that enough love will not redeem …
It makes no difference how deeply seated may be the trouble;
how hopeless the outlook;
how muddled the tangle;
how great the mistake.
A sufficient realization of love will dissolve it all.
If only you could love enough you would be the happiest and most powerful being in the world …

—Emmet Fox

So let love lead the way. When in doubt of the path, or lost in the competing motives at war in your soul, ask: What would love have me do? And do that.

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