We hear a lot about love in our world and in our church. But what does it mean? And more importantly, how do I show love to others?
The world says love me by not disagreeing with me. Lovers say love me by meeting all my selfish desires. One church says love people by telling them about Jesus. Another church says love people by helping at a soup kitchen or mission.
While these have some element of truth to them, they all fall short of being satisfactory to me. The Apostle Paul said:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a (NIV)
Now I am starting to see what is but I still don’t get how to do it. From the gospels:
One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:28-31 (NIV)
He then went on to tell a story about a man:
“A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
Luke 10:30-37 (NIV)
I think maybe I finally understand:
- I must get out of my comfort zone to really show love to people.
- I must get face to face with people to find out what their needs are.
- I must not care so much about what the right crowd might say about me being with ‘those people’.
- I must give of ‘my’ stuff to ease the sufferings of others.
- I must go out of my way to check in on them.
So, what does that mean to me in my day to day existence? How do I get face to face with people when I may have only 20 minutes of actual face to face contact with all people in an average day? How do I check in on people from hundreds of miles away? Should I give to panhandlers on the street when I see them smoking and wearing better clothes than I have?
- Maybe a good start would be to actually notice others in the truck stops instead of going in on a mission with my head down. Hmmm, actually notice other people?!
- Maybe getting out of the truck and going in would help too instead of just sitting alone in the cab. Meet real people!
- Maybe make up some give away food bags that I can hand out as needed.
- Actually smile and be nice to people, even ones that are… grumpy.
To quote a movie (Mask of Zorro), ‘this is going to take a lot of work’….