One of the most powerful lessons of 2014 for me has to do with growing in my understanding of what it really means to love others.
When one looks at the biblical narrative, its quite amazing to see how God accomplishes change in the lives of those he desires to reach. He is not what we expect him to be. He does not merely snap his fingers, and presto! All that God does in his work with this fallen world, he does within the framework of a relationship; a process of reaching out and personally touching the hearts of those he seeks to change.
This is most strikingly seen in his method of redemption. He did not merely speak truth into this world, telling it from a distance what the solution is. He incarnated that truth; he embodied it and brought us a living and breathing picture of that which he seeks to tell us. Although he sees our utterly hopeless and lost state, he does not merely force or command us to change. He doesn’t teach us a lesson by giving us what we deserve. Rather, he comes down and meets us. He establishes a relationship through which he then proceeds to teach us through a process of constant grace and forgiveness.
The same pattern, then, is to direct and define the mission of every person who claims to know him. Paul’s definition of the christian walk boils down to a phrase that is most literally translated as “truthing in love”¹; that is, we are to be defined by a life that is simultaneously truth-shaped and love-driven. God’s ability to transform our world does not depend on our ability to recite (or write down) his truth but on our ability to embody it in a real and unconditional love to those who surround us. When we look from a bird’s eye view on the whole New Testament its starts to become apparent that all the practical commands, warnings and prescriptions are merely a detailed description of what is means to live a Christ-centered life of love.
This has been the overwhelming lesson of my past year. I have seen that real change comes when we are willing to simply reach out and personally touch the lives of the people surround us. Real change happens when we are not afraid to open up, to show that we care, to give people a real taste of the love and grace that we speak of when we talk about the gospel.
Real change happens when we commit to learning to become individuals who are not afraid to live out the real love of Jesus. Individuals who understand people and see their needs. Individuals who are willing to give up their time and energy. Individuals who see deep value and potential in every conversation and relationship. Individuals that are always learning to become a more and more effective channel of that same redemptive love which reached out us and gave us life.
This has been a very convicting discovery for me because I find it much easier to serve others from a distance. I find it easier to read and write and study and organize events instead of meeting someone I don’t know too well and hearing them out. I want to learn to share Christ’s love with others; to push aside my comforts and live in a way that is able to accomplish real change in the lives of those around me.
“For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” (2 Cor. 4:15-16)
1. Ephesians 4:15
PC: Thomas Leuthard