A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. John 13:34-35
"As I have loved you, so you must love one another."
Well, Jesus gave up His life for us. Do you love others like that?
Sure, yeah! I would give up my life for my husband, my son, my daughter, my best friend, etc.! I love others!
It's easy to love our friends and family sacrificially. But are they the only people in the world that God loves?
No. Not by a long shot.
Jesus demonstrated over and over and over again that he loved (loves) people of low stature. Whether it was the woman at the well, lepers, the poor, the sick, the disabled, or little children, Jesus loved them all. His heart for the hurting and the lowly was clear and evident when He was healing people, restoring them to life, talking with them, walking with them...read the Gospels and you will see over and over and over again that Jesus' heart is clearly invested in that group of people.
So where do we, as prosperous, comfortable, and pampered Christians, get off thinking that our comfortable lifestyle supersedes caring for the very people that Jesus tended to?
I will confess that I struggle with selfishness, especially since Ryan has been diagnosed with cancer. I occasionally have the attitude, "Well, I'm going through a rough time in my life, so I deserve to be selfish about material desires and how I spend my time." My attitude towards that is flat out wrong. We (Ryan and Kendra) don't get a free pass to be disobedient to the Lord just because our lives are tough.
Something that we have been convicted of many times during the last several months (hey, we're slow learners) is that if we are to live our lives in radical obedience to God, then our compassion for those that God loves (which is everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation, age, gender, nationality, disability, economic status, smell, health, and grammar) should be overflowing from our hearts into their lives. One of the simplest ways that we have done this is to sponsor Lonyamal, a twelve-year-old boy from Kenya through Compassion International. As much as I love praying for Lonyamal, writing to him, and sending him monetary gifts, I can't help but feel that God is asking more of me.
What does this look like? For me, I'm not quite sure yet. I am praying that God would direct me to more opportunities to have an impact in people's lives and to show them Christlike compassion. I have some opportunities with my students to show them love and compassion, and that's one of the primary ways that I am trying (and occasionally failing) to live out the commandment to love others. But again, I feel that there is more that will be asked of me. Lord, open my eyes.
I also know that God has continuously been working in my husband's heart to see people in a different light. One of the things that he has always struggled with is to judge people before he ever knows them (don't worry, I have his permission to share this). Before he was diagnosed, Ryan tended to overlook or ignore people that were clearly poor and shabbily dressed. He feels as though his eyes have been totally opened since last April. He recently was driving through Hart and noticed three individual people walking down the road, downtrodden, shabby, and dejected. Instead of making judgement about how they must have lived their lives in order to get to such a sorry state, he felt his heart overflow with compassion for them and felt even more strongly convicted to share the hope that he has with those that are hurting.
If you are sitting here, reading this and wondering whether or not there is something more that you could be doing to show the same compassion that Jesus has for people, the answer is more than likely yes. We all have areas of our lives that we could convert from chasing pleasure to making a difference. I know that I certainly do. The question is, are you willing to give up some of your closely guarded time, some precious money, or your comfort in order to be obedient and demonstrate love to others?
Complaining. Are you complaining about insignificant troubles in your life? Do you have spirit of thankfulness for the blessings you've been given?
Complacency. Are you sold out for God's Kingdom? Are you wholly committed to living your life according to His purposes?
Compassion. Do you love the same people that God loves? He loves every person. Are you ready to demonstrate compassion in a real, tangible way?
Lest I ever come across as arrogant or as if I have all of my ducks in a row, let me tell you guys that these three lessons are things that I am continuously being challenged with. I complain a lot. My spiritual life has been in shambles the last month or so since I've been struggling with personal issues and I've fallen victim (again) to complacency. And even though I think that God has done incredibly painful but good work in our hearts to be more compassionate towards others, I have a long way to go until I'm a great model for that. As I have written these messages, I have been really frank with people and flat out challenging others because these have been the words that the Lord has laid up on my heart.
Thank you guys for letting me be real here and for continuing to pray for my family. Even though it's a little scary to be transparent, I know that God is doing work through us and it is a blessing to be along for the ride as He teaches us more and more about what it means to be radically obedient to Him.