The message is everywhere and, in my opinion, is unmistakably a sign of His presence at work, shifting the family of God to a new awareness that I believe is about becoming more about what we are for than what we are against.
And what we need to be about, my friends, is God’s love. The agape kind of love that isn’t possible on our own steam. But we can pray for it. We can ask God to help us love others like Jesus loves them. If you want to know how to love people, study the Bible and “watch” how Jesus interacts and loves the ones He met.
One of my favorite stories is of the rich young ruler. As this man questions Jesus again about what he must do to gain eternal life, before Jesus even answers him, He loves the man.
Jesus looked at him and loved him. "One thing you lack," he said. "Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." — Mark 10:21
In order to love like this I believe we need to first understand how deeply God loves us. This has been true for me because I don’t have a dramatic salvation story. I was a good and obedient little girl and teenager. I didn’t get into trouble. I was an overachiever. I did everything “right,” for the most part. (I feel like Paul here when he says he was the most zealous of Pharisees. And I could have easily been one.)
God reached me when I needed Him emotionally. But I had a long journey ahead to really understand how deeply God loved me. Sometimes we get so used to hearing the crucifixion story that we lose our appreciation of it. But when we begin to appreciate the full scope of what we’ve been given without having done anything on our part, we begin to grasp the depth of God’s love in the barest sense because I don’t think we are even capable of fully understanding it this side of heaven.
Let me share something that hit me this week. John 1 speaks of who Jesus is:
Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. — John 1:3
Then we come to verses 10-11:
He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.
“His own” is a reference to the Jews, but this goes even deeper than the Jews and Gentiles. The first part of John 1 tells us that nothing was made without Jesus, that all things were made through Him. That includes you, me and every single person who has ever lived on this earth and ever will live on this earth. The people He walked among, the ones who rejected him, persecuted Him, the ones who plotted against Him—He made every one of them.
So here’s where my writer’s brain took a trip. As Jesus walked among the people, did He remember creating each one? Did He remember the thought and care as He crafted each person? What He intended each one to be and the potential He placed in each one? What was it like for Him to walk among the very beings He created only to have them reject Him?
Jesus knew why He was coming. Knew what He would face as He walked as a man, yet still fully God. And He still loved everyone He met.
He still does. He doesn’t ask us to change first or to become acceptable in His sight (as if we ever could). He doesn’t give us a list of requirements and expectations to meet first and then decide if He loves us.
He just loves us. Completely, totally, whether we know Him or not. That is “agape” love. That is the love that Jesus gives us. That is the love Jesus wants to do through us to love everyone we meet because He lives in us. To love our spouse, our children, our neighbor and even that stranger at the grocery story. God wants to give us His eyes of love so that when we look at others, when we truly stop and see them, we will love them. Even the difficult ones.
It’s the whole reason Jesus stepped down from His throne of power, entered the world as a helpless baby, subjected himself to rejection, torture and death from the hands of the ones He created, so that we would have no doubts of how deeply we are loved.
Why else would He endure all this unless He loves us that much? The more we embrace what Jesus sacrificed and endured to save and show us the depths of His love for His creation, the more we begin to love those in our lives and those we meet.
Just as they are and just a little more like Jesus does.
I love you, my friends, with the love of Jesus!