Real love is never easy. There is always pain, sacrifice and giving something up. Maybe that is what we are missing. He gave it all up and we want love on the cheap. We want it unconditionally with no strings attached. The truth is that the opposite of love is not hate, it is apathy and I am pretty good at it.
At least with hate there is passion and fire and you know that someone cares. Not caring is the ultimate betrayal and the surest sign that love has been lost. As I think about the world that I live in, I too easily slip into ignoring what is going on around me and hoping the bad stuff will just go away.
Then I remember … Some people don’t have the opportunity to ignore so easily and yet they still love
As rebels were encroaching on Monrovia in the midst of a civil war, my friend stayed to help others and almost stayed too long. Only by God’s grace was his life spared as he was allowed to pass through the roadblocks that had been set up. Later in the war he was actually captured and nearly killed. Despite this he serves each day in the small store that has now re-opened, knowing that he could be serving his captors and those who so devastated his country.
As night began to fall and it was time to close the store, my colleague in Central Asia stopped to talk with a man he knew and a stranger. Just as he was about to lock up, he let them in to finish the conversation. Taking advantage of his vulnerability at the moment, they beat him with the lock, threatened his life and left him bleeding. Despite this, he returned to work a few weeks later, the store re-opened and he kept on talking.
It was like any other day in Karachi and yet not really. Not long before, planes had flown into the World Trade Centers in the USA killing thousands and a militant Muslim group was taking responsibility. Tensions were high, especially for those claiming to be Christians. As my fellow CLCers were serving customers, a man walked into the bookshop, took out a gun and started firing. Hoping to kill a few more Christians, he failed but he did slightly injure one worker and terrified the rest. Despite this, the local team took additional security precautions, prayed and re-opened the store.
This Valentine’s Day, I am praying for my heart to be “jump started” again. Like so many that have gone on before me, I need to know the power of God’s love flowing through my veins so that I am compelled to see others the way that he does. I am so grateful that as I pray I do not have to wait, He stands ready to provide all that I lack.
Maybe I can begin to see ISIS as a hopelessly lost group of people that Jesus died for just like me and not just another reason to turn off the news.
Maybe I can begin to see my “friends” on Facebook who say such embarrassing things and actually hurt the cause they claim to stand for as people in need of a transforming King just like me and not just another reason to ignore or unfriend them.
Maybe I can begin to see those that choose to live life in opposition to God’s desires as sheep in need of a shepherd and not just as people who “deserve what they get”. If I got what I deserved, I would have been dead a long time ago.
As God “jump starts” my heart, I want to learn more about why Jesus looked at the crowd he was speaking to and, “he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless.” I know one thing for sure; I was harassed and helpless and he loved me anyway. I need a compassion revolution in my heart this week.