Love in Action

No piece of fabric is more important than a human soul. It’s difficult, nearly impossible to have a conversation with someone who believes that America mowing over weeds is proof of being progressive or will make “American great again.” To bury hundreds of years of horrific American history under gravel and pretend it’s not there will not keep the weeds of darkness hidden. It must be uprooted. Racism is an evil and wicked sin that has plagued and captivated the hearts of many. So much so that some would oppress and control and call themselves superior than a darker complexion/group of people. Racism is a lack of seeing one another made in the image of God; that you and I have value and worth, regardless of cultural background. Racism produces scales in the eyes and hardness of heart that causes severe hatred, bigotry, and harm; and we are seeing the fruit of it before our eyes.

What is frustrating is that with all that’s occurred within the past few months is nothing new; we just haven’t addressed the reason and purpose why people are protesting and why people are bending their knee. So many want to point at what others are doing but not speak on why, and I’ve found myself lamenting.

I’ve been infuriated and broken. Infuriated because individuals taunt, wound, and murder because someone’s color is different from theirs. It’s gut wrenching that many would stand in silence and not say anything, or show a lack of sympathy. I’ve been broken in heart because I’m wondering where the church is – it’s members – the saints who have a, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father…to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and keep oneself unstained from the world.” (James 1:27), who show no partiality no matter someone’s looks or socioeconomic status (James 2), and who “Do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly…” (Micha 6:8). How can we provide a place and be present physically in the lives of others void of the love of God, if we claim to experience His grace and mercy in our own lives?

The reality is that if you’re a Christian you can’t possibly remain silent and not have compassion for the poor, the broken, and oppressed.

For my brother and sister in the faith: How have we loved each other well as God commands us, or could it be possible that we have fallen short because of our own opinions? Are we engaging with our brethren who look different and not be afraid to cry with and ask how they are feeling? Are we doing life in such a way that reveals the glory of Christ through our friendships and love for one another? I can’t help but share what John writes in 1 John when he speaks to believers about how we are to love each other as Christ commanded us,

“By this we know love, that He (Jesus) laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” – 1 John 3:16-17

“We love because [God] first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his bother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.”  - 1 John 4:19-21

The only way we know what love looks and feels like is when we have grasped the weight of God’s love toward us at our worst. To see how Jesus treated the lowly when everyone else had a harsh word, he sat at the table with the worst of people. In the heart of us who are saved He transforms our hard hearts and transforms it to one of compassion. Our love and adoration for God should flow into our love for others, especially within our own community of faith.

Then there’s this other saying that Jesus commands that’s hard, this whole loving our neighbor as ourselves…

A lawyer once asked Jesus this question, “Who is my neighbor?” in Luke 10:25-37. In his asking, the Word of God says that the man “desired to justify himself,” in his question, as if Jesus was going to give him the right away to love certain people and not others. Is this not us sometimes? Yet Jesus replies with a parable of the Samaritan: A Jewish man was journeying into Jewish territory and he was robbed and beaten nearly to death on the way. As the man lay on the ground, a priest and a Levite saw him and took another route, as if they didn’t even see him. However, a Samaritan man, (Jews considered Samaritans as unclean having no dealings with them) saw the Jew and “had compassion.” This word compassion in the Greek means, “to be moved as to one’s bowels.” To have compassion means to act in love and pity. The Samaritan man in his compassion acted. He was moved to clean him up and care for him, despite the fact that these two people wouldn’t have interacted in any other bases. This is what it means to love our neighbor as ourselves.

When we love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength God gives us the ability to love our neighbor. Not that we accomplish this in our own strength, but keenly aware of our own shortcomings that Christ had deep compassion, mercy, and grace towards us. Our neighbor is the one who doesn’t think, talk, and look like you. They may dress funny, and possibly even hate you. This is not an easy thing, considering all that’s going on around us. Yet this is why I love God, because when I’m weak in my lamenting and I feel my heart becoming numb and bitter, the Holy Spirit reminds me,

“The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.” – Psalm 145:8

To see people coming together to aid in the relief of thousands of families who have been affected by Hurricane Harvey in Houston has been sweet to witness. Seeing communities work together help, care, love, shelter, feed, clothe, and medically treat the needy shows that compassion is in us. If only we would put on love when we see each other on a day-to-day basis and not only when natural disaster strikes, but every day the Psalm 34:14 says, “Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” The most beautiful, most fragrant aroma the saints display is when we love each other past what is subjective and our neighbor as our self.  As Christians we should lead in love. In this the world sees the Gospel of Jesus played out. And that’s what it’s all about.