Love Requires Risk
A lesson in dating and spiritual growth

There are some experiences in life that can only be attained at risk of being hurt. Love is one of them.

In “Living Water,” Pastor General Gerald Flurry noted the following about the late Herbert W. Armstrong: “Whenever Mr. Armstrong spoke about a project that would help the Work, he conveyed tremendous excitement about it. He was thrilled because his heart was in the Work. That was his life. Every time something good happened, he rejoiced in that—and he had a lot to get excited about. Of course, he had some heartaches too; some things went wrong. That’s the way it is if you love—you can get hurt. But you know how to really live.”

The lesson is: In order to experience love and the abundant blissful life, we need to risk getting hurt!

This requires full commitment.

Mr. Armstrong was committed to God’s way of life. When he saw others leave this commitment, he was deeply hurt. Mr. Armstrong also made mistakes that he deeply regretted. But had he never committed to God, he would have never been able to contribute so much to this great Work. He would have never experienced the abundant life, and we would have never benefited from his labor.

Without this kind of love, life is not worth living—but we can only experience it if we allow ourselves to get hurt.

As members of God’s Church, we show our love to God by investing our whole life in His Work. As a wife wants to be around her husband, we want to be around Jesus Christ. This commitment allows us to grow in love—for God, His Family and His Work. When things go wrong, we get hurt—but that’s “the way it is if you love.” On the positive side, we learn how to truly live!

The rewards far outweigh the risks.

The Bible instructs us to learn from the spiritual and to apply it to the physical. Ephesians 5:25 for example reads: “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.”

Here we see that Jesus Christ loves the Church to the extent that He gave His own life for it. He and God the Father knew that through this sacrifice and through the cleansing of the firstfruits, billions more could later enter into His Family (John 3:16). The potential reward far outweighed the risk!

On the human level we can learn tremendous lessons from this example of love. It shows the kind of sacrificial love a husband ought to have for his wife. But it also relates a lesson for singles: It is OK to take risks!

In dating widely, we sacrifice time to get to know God’s Family. But there comes a time when singles consider narrowing down their dating options to pursue a marital union the way God designed it. In this process one gets to know members of the opposite sex on a more personal level. The deepening of relations also opens the door to getting hurt. This shouldn’t be feared.

Dating is one of the most wonderful gifts that God has given us. It allows us to get to know God’s Family on an intimate level and it allows us to learn to love another person, the way God designed it—a way that parallels the spiritual. Some may shy away from dating seriously in fear of being hurt or hurting others. But how would you know if God is bringing you together if you don’t let the relationship develop? (Of course, one needs to consult God and get the necessary ministerial counsel before taking such action.)

The reality is that God has designed our hearts and emotions. He wants us to be drawn toward one another. He designed us to love and want to love—on the physical and spiritual level. In both cases love comes with risk—and God designed it that way.

God routinely invites members into His Family and loves them with the highest level of love possible. But with each invitation, He also knows the recipient could reject the divine calling or turn his or her back on it—by extending His supreme love, God risks being hurt. Those called can experience the highest form of love but need to “count the cost,” because failure means losing their eternal lives.

God’s love comes with great risk, but as Mr. Flurry noted: “That’s the way it is if you love—you can get hurt. But you know how to really live.” A life without true love just isn’t worth living; this of course speaks of the spiritual agape love imparted through God’s Holy Spirt that doesn’t require a physical marital union.

But both physically and spiritually: Taking the risk leads to a better more blissful life!

Even if our worst fears come true in dating, we still experience what it means to allow love to grow. Furthermore, God’s way of dating as outlined in Single-minded for God and The Missing Dimension in Sex shows how we can avoid the worst heartaches by staying in the bounds of God’s law.

In dating we experience the joys of living God’s way of life. But when the time has come and we believe that God has led us to narrow down our dating options, those who take the risk and allow a deeper relationship to develop will be rewarded with thrills of a marital-love relationship that parallels the coming marriage between Christ and His Bride. Such a commitment, of course, comes with risks too (the chosen partner could turn away from God, for example), but the love that comes with it greatly overshadows the risks.

Love motivates God to expand His Family into eternity. Love enables Him to sacrifice, to risk being hurt, and even to lose a member of His Family. God knows that the multiplying of His love in the hearts of everyone will far overshadow any temporary setbacks.

Single or not, all of us are called upon to learn the lesson of love. Mr. Armstrong set a wonderful example of being fully committed to God’s Work and to his marriage. In both examples, as illustrated in his autobiography, he learned to truly love. “Of course, he had some heartaches too; some things went wrong. That’s the way it is if you love—you can get hurt. But you know how to really live.”