Posted By: Tim Mannin
For the next several blog posts we are going to string together a theme about the subject of LOVE.
Our church must be crazy serious about love. In these early stages of becoming a church we need to clearly establish love as our highest value, and we can’t just say it…we must embody it!
In the Matthew 22, a religious leader tested Jesus by asking him a question.
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (v. 36-39)
Love is complex, deep, and multi-layered and somehow this thing called love is supposed to be central to what it means to be a follower of Jesus. Jesus identified it as the greatest commandment, but I think we may have a problem…because I have a belief that…if love isn’t easy, we don’t give it.
We can assume many things about the people who stand at intersections of life holding signs that read, will work for food; however, the truth remains that they are in need. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve driven up next to one of these people and acted like I didn’t notice them, acted like I couldn’t see them. I’ve simply kept my head forward, hands at ten and two on the steering wheel, and just waited for the light to turn green. On one occasion several years ago while sitting at a light and feeling the eyes of one of these individuals burning through my window, I heard a little voice from the backseat ask, “Daddy what is that man doing?” Emily, my daughter, asked again, “Daddy what is that man doing?” I didn’t know what to say. Then she asked again…
Her words revealed my hypocrisy.
I chose to do nothing. I mean I didn’t do anything bad; it’s not like I ran into him with my car. I just did nothing.
“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such a faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?” (James 2:14-16)
What do you do when different, needy people break into your carefully protected life? What do you do when you’re caught off guard and the stoplight can’t turn fast enough or the conversation can’t be dodged? What do you do when you are confronted with people in need and you can’t get out of the situation? I’m ashamed to realize how I responded. My love was limited.
Throughout the Gospels Jesus recklessly loved people outside the circle. His love was and is unlimited.
Erwin McManus wrote in his book Chasing Daylight, “We have defined holiness through what we separate ourselves from rather than what we give ourselves to. I am convinced the great tragedy is not the sins we commit, but the life that we fail to live.” I believe it’s possible that many of us have made life much less about the love we are giving, and instead our faith is about managing and reducing sins. Is this how we follow Jesus? McManus goes on, “You cannot follow God in neutral. God has created you to do something. It is not enough to stop the wrong and then be paralyzed when it comes to the right.”
We can no longer afford to do nothing…we must become people who do something everyday that matters.
Following Jesus is about action. It’s not about being a person with a low sin quota, but instead it is about moving into spaces where love has evaporated. The people Jesus loved were desperate hurting people.
May we be people who love when and where it’s not easy to love.
May we be people who do something.
May we be people who love recklessly