What does it mean to truly love people at the highest level in practical ways every day? How do latest findings in sociology and psychology blend with biblical understanding to reveal often counter-intuitive ways of loving like never before?
Where does the title of the book come from?
Dr. Les Parrott: That’s easy to answer. It’s a three-word sentence from the Apostle Paul writing to the Ephesians. He says this: Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that (Ephesians 5:2 MSG).
Those three words can’t help but to stop you in your tracks, right? Love like that. It compels you to go back and read the previous three sentences again to see how Jesus loved. You and I, as Christ-followers, want to love to love like he loved.
The challenge is that the way Jesus loved others so often seems out of reach; beyond doable. You might as well tell me to go climb Mt. Everest. The bar is too high. Or so it seems. By the way, Jesus commanded us to love like he did (John 15:12). So this isn’t an option for anyone who’s serious about their relationship with God.
It’s why I’ve been on a long quest, truly for decades. I’ve wanted to know how the ideal model of love could rub off on my imperfect life. How can self-giving love work its way into the tissues of my self-interested life? My quest has yielded answers and I feel compelled to share them. I’ve written Love Like That for everyone who feels like a failure when it comes to loving like Jesus, but still keeps trying.
You’ve worked at making this idea practical for people. How?
Dr. Les Parrott: My quest has taught me that loving more like Jesus is more obtainable than you might imagine. His teaching and example reveal at least five distinct qualities of his love: When you love like Jesus—
- you become more mindful—less detached
- you become more approachable—less exclusive
- you become more graceful—less judgmental
- you become more bold—less fearful
- you become more self-giving—less self-absorbed
Is this an exhaustive list of how Jesus loved? Of course not. But it’s a way to get an earthly handle on this heavenly ideal.
Time and again, Jesus demonstrated these five qualities and spoke about them; not as unreachable ideals. He calls us to embody them. Are they difficult? You bet. But not insurmountable. Will you and I fail in living them out? Absolutely. But don’t be discouraged. For it’s in our failed attempts that we learn to better reason with our hearts as well as our heads.
Explain what being “mindful” is and why that’s important in loving others.
Dr. Les Parrott: One of the first things I learned in this process is that if you want to love like Jesus you have to see what others don’t. And the only way to do that is to be mindful. What’s that mean? Quite simply, being mindful means giving others special attention. Well, of course, right? But it’s more profound than you might first guess.
A person who’s mindful is not detached or oblivious, they see what’s not readily perceptible. A mindful person is watchful. They have their eye out for what others are missing. Mindfulness attends to details—little nonverbal behaviors that often speak more loudly than words.
As the dictionary makes clear, to be attentive or mindful means to “express affectionate interest through close observation and gallant gestures.” Gallant gestures! Didn’t see that coming, did you? It means that if you’re to be mindful you need to be brave. The gallant person goes where others may fear to travel. And that’s exactly what Jesus did. When we’re mindful, we explore uncharted territory. It’s uncharted because we don’t know where it’ll lead. But we do know that love results whenever we take a mindful journey.
How did Jesus demonstrate approachability and why should we do the same?
Dr. Les Parrott: Jesus was tuned into outcasts, people on the fringes—those who were the most likely to feel left out or excluded. The Gospels are abundantly clear: Jesus was shockingly accessible to anyone who felt undesirable or unwanted—lepers, Gentiles, tax collectors, the poor and persecuted, pagans and sinners. He wasn’t like other “holy men” in Judea. His fellow rabbis operated on the principles of exclusion and isolation. Seeing how imminently approachable Jesus was made them not just perplexed, but indignant. One of the most compelling examples occurred when Jesus was invited to dinner by a rabbi named Simon and I dive into that in one of the chapters of the book.
What does it mean to be grace-full in order to truly love?
Dr. Les Parrott: Jesus rarely used the term grace, but he talked about the concept frequently. Grace is most often linked with the term favor, as in God’s “unmerited favor.” It doesn’t require earning merit badges. We don’t have to do something to beget it. Grace is an undeserved and unconditional gift. As Paul puts it, “By grace are you saved through faith and not of yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:9).
Trace the Greek roots of grace, charis, and you’ll find a word meaning cheerful or happy. Trace the same word in Hebrew—chen—and it means to bend or stoop. So grace, when combining these two origins, means to happily stoop down—to gladly become inferior to another. It’s ultimately what God did in sending Jesus to walk among us. “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him” (1 John 4:9). While every other religion offers a way to earn approval, only Christianity dares to make God’s love unconditional.
A story is told of a group of Oxford professors who were discussing the uniqueness that Christianity offered the world. Some said it was creation or the cross. Others suggested the Bible, miracles, and hope. When C.S. Lewis came in the room, the group asked him what he thought Christianity brought to the table that other religions did not. Without hesitation Lewis responded, “That’s easy. It’s grace.”
Grace is so central to those who follow Jesus that the apostle Paul said the church was founded on “the gospel of God’s grace” (Acts 20:24). The term occurs well over 100 times in the New Testament.
This Gospel of Grace is truly from God. Humans would’ve never imagined it. Our nature is to honor the virtuous and punish the guilty. But God is happy to give unconditional acceptance and unmerited grace to all who’ll receive it.
What keeps people from being grace-givers?
Dr. Les Parrott: Social scientists call it negativity bias. The rest of us call it judgmentalism. Like me, I’m guessing you don’t think of yourself as judgmental. It’s other people who are that way, right? But let’s be honest. Judgmental thoughts shoot through everyone’s mind. Lurking just beneath the surface of our conscious thinking, we think: I’m shocked and aghast by that person’s behavior; I wouldn’t think of doing such a thing. We need to clearly note how different we are from others who do despicable things. We want to underscore to ourselves that we would never sink to their level. And judgmentalism is exactly what keeps us from being grace-givers.
Is there anything else you’d like to say?
Dr. Les Parrott: You won’t find guilt or shame as a message in Love Like That. Nope. Instead you’ll find five everyday behaviors for experiencing love at the highest levels. And, like I said, it’s more obtainable than you might imagine. That’s why I’m excited about having people read this book.
Love Like That is published by HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc., the parent company of Bible Gateway.
Bio: No. 1 New York Times bestselling author and psychologist Dr. Les Parrott has been featured on Oprah, CBS This Morning, Today, CNN, Fox News, and The View, and in USA TODAY and The New York Times. Dr. Parrott’s books, often coauthored with his wife, Dr. Leslie Parrott, have sold more than three million copies and have been translated into more than 30 languages. He’s the creator of three revolutionary relationship assessments: SYMBIS.com, DeepLoveAssessment.com, and Yada.com. Dr. Parrott and his wife, Leslie, live in Seattle with their two sons. Visit LesandLeslie.com.
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