In the “Mayhem on a Cross” episode of Bones, the young Dr. Sweets is asking Dr. Gordon Wyatt, a kind and wise man, why he is retiring from the psychiatry.I really resonated with this scene. It reveals the power and very nature of love to not only change but also to save lives.
Sweets: Is that it, people don’t have the capacity to surprise you anymore?
Wyatt: Oh, people surprise me. You surprise me.
Wyatt: Few people looking at you would know what you’d been through.
Sweets is taken aback.
Sweets: I beg your pardon?
Wyatt (gently): Well, you were adopted. And the people who adopted you were an older couple. Probably too old for standard adoption of an infant, meaning you weren’t an infant. You were, what . . . four?
Sweets (pausing): Six.
Wyatt: Six, yeah. Special needs. A child who’d been through some sort of hell. A damaged child.
Sweets is trying to keep his emotions in check.
Wyatt: But they were loving, wonderful people.
Wyatt smiles at Sweets, reassuring.
Sweets (moved): Yes.
Wyatt: They saved you. But now, they’re gone. You’re an orphan.
Sweets: My parents died within weeks of each other.
Wyatt: Recently, I’d say. The wound is still fresh.
Sweets: Just before I came to work here.
Wyatt: So now, you’re mostly alone in the world. But they had time to save you. They gave you a good life, and that’s why you believe that people can be saved by other people with good hearts. That’s the gift your parents left you. That, and the gift of a truly good heart. That gives you a deeper calling I do not share.
I know I’ve reflected on this before, but whether we walk with Jesus intentionally or not, we all know how to love. Part of being human means each and every one of us knows how to love—deep and desperately. As a follower of Jesus I can only exclaim, how can we not? If we are created in God’s image—an image John describes as Love itself—how can we not know how to love?
And I can’t help but bring up again Mark Scandrette’s concept that in Soul Graffiti: Making a Life in the Way of Jesus that “we were made to love God and love one another in a state of shalom-peace:”
Many people believe that the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus fulfilled a cosmic mystery. C. S. Lewis I believe called it ‘the deeper magic of the universe’ that give us the power to need to seek God’s shalom. People came to believe that through the sacrifice of Jesus, an energy was released, some would call the Spirit, that allows us to love God and people from the deepest place of our being. When Jesus traveled, proclaiming, ‘The kingdom of God is near,’ he was announcing that a new kind of life is now possible, or as a friend likes to say, ‘There’s a new way to be human.’The longer I walk with Jesus, the more I believe that learning to live in this “new way to be human” is at its core all about love. Real love conquerors fear, longs for right-ness, and sets out to right the world. It longs to save and redeem, rescue and deliver. This is the nature of love—a love we see in Jesus, whose life, execution and resurrection explodes outward even now, swallowing death and darkness in an eternal blast of love and life.
And when we experience love like this, it changes who we are. It changes how we view others and how we approach the world around us. For Sweets, being loved by his adoptive parents not only heals his heart and enables him to trust and believe in people but also drives him to help heal and “save” others. He knows love can change and save people because it changed and saved him.
It is the same for all of us. Being loved changes and saves us—and if we’ve been changed and saved, we can’t help but love others. That also seems to be the nature of love.
A scene like the one above reminds me again that perhaps when we love we are not simply echoing God’s love for us or others but actually being the flesh and blood of Love itself. Perhaps that is why being loved by others changes us so radically—because it is a holy and divine thing in and of itself. And if being loved by each other can save us in ways like it did Sweets, how much more can experiencing Love itself change and save us?
But then, as Scandrette suggests, it seems God designed love to be experienced in tandem, at once from God and others, to God and others, given and received. Perhaps that is when love is most transforming and powerful.