Red is the color of passion. Enraged anger, deep shame and romantic love are all red. Along with these crimson hues, are the lighter shades of pink…innocence, femininity, and virtue. The many shades and depth of the color encompass strong emotions. Emotions that make hearts pump and faces flush. Emotions that make us feel something.
We most always associate red as the color of love. In February each year red and pink construction paper are in short supply. Glitter and glue are consumed in mass quantities, much to the dismay of the custodians of the world. Our minds turn to romantic love and we blush pink when flowers and candy arrive upon our doorsteps. The innocence of romance in full bloom, at least until moral relativism swoops in to rule the day. And while our country contemplates how many shades of gray there are in romantic relationships and what love is supposed to act like… half way around the world, real love is demonstrated in 21 shades of red.
- A love that does not bow its knee under duress.
- A love that knows real suffering.
- A love that endures torture.
- A love that is brave.
- A love that costs dearly.
For those who are hidden in him, laying down everything is the only response to the extravagant love of the Savior…the one whose love for us is so deep that he gave up his life so we could experience it. How could we do any less than to return this sacrificial love? How could we, in the midst of horrific acts of violence, do other than to stand with him and him with us, bonded together in one spirit? His love pulses with every beat of the heart, but it lives beyond heartbeats. We breathe it in, but it lives beyond breath. It is the thread that runs through every beautiful thing in our world. It is what holds our universe together. In him we live, and move and have our being.
The 21 martyrs knew this. They refused to say otherwise, knowing the consequences of such bold defiance of their captors would surely mean death. They demonstrated what love looks like and testified of it to the world.
- Love that is not demeaning, demanding, or degrading.
- Love that is not victimization or manipulation.
- Love that pours itself out instead of taking.
- Love that is not boastful or proud.
- Love that is not one-sided slavery but an intimate joining of two.
- Love that does not dishonor others or seek its own way.
- Love that is not angry or vengeful.
- Love that is humble unto death.
- Love that protects and rejoices and celebrates its lover.
- Love that continues to trust even when distrust is the easier way.
- Love that believes and hopes even when nothing appears to be hopeful.
The enemy of our souls wants to take this love from us. He desires torture. He desires slavery. He desires our selfishness to override our compassion…our hatred to blot out God’s grace. He desires the opposite of beauty. He wants to twist love into something vile, and if he cannot he wants to kill it. He has proven his tactic over and over throughout history. He is a slow learner. He still has not learned that he cannot kill love, because love gave itself up to death. He cannot quench love because love multiplies when it dies, then rises again. He cannot steal love because true love gives itself away for free. He cannot behead love, or torture it, or extinguish it…because God IS love.
There are no shades of gray in love…only red…the blood-red of the Savior that covers all and whose blood mingles with that of the martyrs to testify…that real love never fails.