What comes to mind when you think of love?
Oftentimes we tend to think in terms of couples, dating, romance, marriage, and as parents the love we have for our children. Rarely do we perhaps think of Jesus Christ. And yet the truth is, Jesus Christ is the epitome of love and all it's glorious wonder and sacrifice.
Love is bearing nails.
Love is in his hands.
Love is Jesus.
Love is what Jesus did for each and every one of us.
'Cause living He loved me, dying He saved me
And buried He carried my sins far away
Rising He justified freely forever
One day He's coming, oh, glorious day, oh, glorious day...
- Casting Crowns
Glorious Day Lyrics
What is so incredibly beautiful about the love Jesus has for us is that it isn't restrictive. His love doesn't pick and choose. His love covers all people… everyone is included despite our world's often limited views as humans… the poor to the middle class to the rich… all races… both sexes… all walks of life receive Christ's love. He has chosen you because "in Christ" there is neither Jew nor Gentile (refer to Galatians 3:28) and no one is left out.
"When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly"
-1 Peter 2:23
When Jesus was suffering, was being treated like a criminal… turn the tables and imagine yourself on the cross… any one of us would be incredibly tempted to lash out, to scream, to curse, to yell, to spit back, to fight… and yet Jesus did not go there… to refrain in absolute firm, secure will.
"By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us"
-1 John 3:16
Because if he hadn't laid down his life where would we be today? The scripture would not have been fulfilled and Jesus would not have been whom he said to be. There has never been nor will there ever be a greater love than Christ's.
When we love others, when we walk in light, when we forgive other's for their transgressions against us, when we try to understand and feel someone's pain that they are enduring (empathy) versus just eliciting a dismissive "Oh, bummer for you!", (sympathy)… when we share our smile with a stranger… because that one smile just might make the difference between someone who is in the pit of depression, feeling invisible and becoming despondently suicidal instead becoming gloriously hopeful and renewed in spirit…. when we let the person cut in front of us in traffic instead of cutting them off… when we open our hearts, doors and home to someone who maybe doesn't have anyone to spend Christmas with… when we teach our children they do not need the latest and greatest gadget because someone in their same town is going without food and we are called to help those in need… when we choose to not dabble in materialism, idolatry or become "afflicted with affluenza" because the very word "flu" is in it which can lead to death… when we choose to pray for those who have committed the unthinkable, the most detestable things in society because we believe through God, with love, hard hearts can be softened.. when we pray for all humanity… when we act upon all these things and more… we are walking in LOVE.
Today if you could go back in time and stand before Jesus on the cross…
what would you say to him?
What would you feel?
Would you simply say "Bummer for you!" as you walked by knowing what He did for us? Today do you try to put yourself in his place, imagine what He must have felt? Do you feel moved to tears when you realize the enormity of His suffering and love for us? Would you have knelt before Him and cried for Him as He suffered? Would you have spoken words of love to Him? Would you have sat there all hours into the darkness with him as He cried out to the Lord…
"My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?"
Empathy is to step out of ourselves and into someone else's experience.
Jesus was God on earth… living, experiencing life as we humans do.
Jesus walked earth touching our humanity in such a way that he empathized with our hurts, our struggles, our mortal-ness if you will, yet living a sinless life.
When we live our lives trying to understand others and how they feel versus fixing, pointing or judging as they cry out in despair and grief and hurt… when we instead listen, cry with them, hold their hand and feel their pain in our hearts…
When we pray "Jesus, break my heart for what breaks yours… "
Then we not only empathize…
But we LOVE.
© gps-gracepowerstrength.blogspot.com ~ 2013
names have been omitted in this post
"Some people are like pox," she told me and I paused staring at her quizzically.
"Like… chicken pox?" I asked.
"Yeah, like they are a pox on other people's lives. They spew hate and it spreads like an STD, a disease, a plague and ends up affecting everyone… just by how they treat others."
I thought her description was amusing and interesting although I hadn't likened hate to chicken pox or some other disease that's contagious.
Yet there are indeed haters in the world.
And haters have the ability to spread their message like wildfire, like dominoes, like a bad cases of untreated herpes overnight… infecting others and creating such huge hate that it threatens to overshadow love like an ugly unclean blanket.
Haters Of Jesus & Christians…
There are the haters of Jesus Christ, the haters of Christians. A vocal outcry of hate towards Christians... ----> who speak of Jesus Christ dying on the cross for our sins has unfortunately led many Christians to hide their faith, to minimize it, to smash it down and keep it tucked away for fear that they will be singled out with hate. As Christians Jesus doesn't want us to condemn others for having different faiths… instead, He would be one who would encourage open dialogue among people, encouraging us to extend love and care anyway. We shouldn't squash our faith but let it shine brightly as we each have a story that led us to Jesus. Luckily in the United States we have freedom of speech and hold the right to speak of our love for the Lord and yet it seems to be an unspoken social rule to not speak of Him or even utter "Merry Christmas". Unfortunately in other parts of the world someone could be openly persecuted or even killed for professing their love for Jesus Christ which is heartbreakingly sad. And yet even with freedom of speech how incredibly dismaying to know we love Jesus so much, that each time we ponder the enormity of what He did for us it brings tears to our eyes and yet to not ever speak of it…. that is unfortunate.
Women Hating Women…
There are women hating other women just because they are fit, thin, wealthy, just because of who their married to, what they drive, what they have… the list goes on. A woman hating another woman based on her looks, her address, etc is not really hating her but envying her. Jealousy is what is at the core here and yet hate like this is based on ignorance. Why would we believe a woman has it all based on what she drives? This is such misinformed thinking and we must be mindful that the woman driving the relatively new Lexus could be counting dollars in her purse, slices of bread in her pantry and wondering how she's going to feed her children that week… because her newly divorced ex hasn't paid child support and she's still job searching. We need to look past what we see. Looking past the exterior and remembering there is a person with a whole life we know nothing about, that is maybe breaking inside and just getting by… instead of spewing hate based on skewed and wrong assumptions we can all choose to extend kindness instead.
Hate Toward Certain Individuals…
There are the haters of homosexual individuals in communities all over the world. As Christian's we know the bible states that God made man; Adam and then Eve. We know the Lord designed man and woman like He did for a reason, to compliment each other, for companionship and reproduction. We don't have to agree with the views of someone who states they are homosexual. As Christians we don't have to agree with a lot of things in life. There are Christians who break away from the traditional views of marriage and certainly not all Christians spew hate toward individuals who are gay yet it does still unfortunately occur today. Being a Christian we are called to love, not hate and not bully. That's the foundation of being a Christian… knowing Jesus Christ died for us, for our sins and being thankful we have His grace, His mercy although far from perfect… having a heart of giving, one of thankfulness and kindness toward others. When we spew hate at a certain group of people we fail as Christians and misrepresent our Lord.
Hating Someone Based On Color…
There are the haters of people of different colors, haters of interracial marriage, haters of someone being viewed as different based purely on color of skin versus being viewed as a person with feelings, a past, present and future. It doesn't make sense to hate someone based on color. It doesn't make sense to hate an entire race of people merely because you've been wronged by someone white, hispanic, black etc. It would be ludicrous to say: "I hate all Vietnamese people because I was raped by a Vietnamese man." That's complete insanity. And yet people may subscribe to this screwed up mentality when they've been wronged by one person or their ancestors have been many moons ago. Instead we must remember that each time we hate someone based on color we are actually engaging in great harm to all people. God hates sin but not the sinner…. let's agree that we wholeheartedly hate the sins of people (of all colors) but love people. That is such a victory and one we can set an example of each and everyday.
When we are messengers of God's word, when we value what Jesus did for us, when we look past the superficial exterior of someone and instead view them as someone who has had triumphs, struggles, losses, and joys… when we acknowledge they have experienced the lows, highs and in betweens of life…. when we see them as people, people very similar to ourselves, then we can do what God called us to do…
© gps-gracepowerstrength.blogspot.com ~ 2013