“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.”
This verse kept coming to my mind today. As a child I think I read this verse thinking, "because I am a believer I must make an effort to love everyone around me". That wasn't a bad thought. The truth was, I did not possess a lot of love for everyone as a child, because I was very egocentric (thinking the world revolved around my every little desire)...a common characteristic trait for young children, it seems. :) Sometimes we do what we know God wants us to do, even though we have not FELT it yet. I will choose to show love to people, because that is what God wants, even though there is part of me that would really just rather punch their face in. :) (I'm being overly dramatic here, for fun, but you get my point)
Now, it's different. I'm not perfect, by any means, but some of the things that God calls me to seem easier now that I have been doing them for so long. Loving people is not a chore. It's not this thing I have to really work hard to muster. I can't help but love people around me. I see their pain, and I identify on some level, and I cannot help but have compassion for them. It got me thinking.
God calls us to do things...out of love. Sometimes we feel like doing those things (like David, in the Bible) and sometimes we would rather crawl in a hole or run the other direction (like Jonah in the Bible) but we can be assured that IF we obediently follow God's prompting for us that He will bless it. God wants to use his people to love on his other people. He cares about the hurting. As we act out of the love HE has given us, we are creating an atmosphere around us where, "people will know that we are God's disciples".
I used to think "well, even a non-believer loves someone, so how is THIS any different?" This is not a matter of just being "civil". This is a matter of stepping out in faith, and trusting that God is going to be glorified when we take radical steps to love those around us. Respecting others is a thing we are forced to do, by the law. If I infringe on your rights, I am in trouble. Even a non-believer must adhere to the law. There are consequences when we don't. LOVING others with God's love is different. It is this thing you do when your heart breaks for someone who is hurting, and even though you may never get anything back, you reach out and pull them up from where they are. This might mean setting aside my personal agenda, seeing others with the expectation that God has GREAT things in store for them, and helping them to get to a point where they can see that too.
Where is God's nudge for you today, and in your future? Where does your heart break? If He is calling you to move forward in love, DO IT! Tear up your list of excuses not to and move ahead, praying as you tackle the thing He is calling you to do. You will be blessed in the process and people will know that you are God's disciples. To God be the glory, for the love we learn to possess for others as we reach out and serve with a humble heart.
"Developing radical faith really happens one obedient step at a time." -Susie Larson