“I give you a new command. Love one another. You must love one another, just as I have loved you. If you love one another, everyone will know you are my disciples.”
There’s been a lot of bad stuff recently. If you pay attention to the news, it can seem like there isn’t much hope in the world. Last week there was a shooting in Florida where seventeen students lost their lives. Seventeen students with potential. Seventeen children made in the image of God. My heart breaks. I tried to think about what I would do if seventeen of my students’ lives were taken, I can’t even fully comprehend the hurt and pain. We live in a time where each day it seems like more devastation happens. Our world is broken, we are so far from God and we are a lost people. I remember an Easter afternoon where I received a message that my friend and one of my brothers from small group took his own life, the pain and hurt that ran deep. I still remember the pain of having my dad tell me that a family member was addicted to drugs and alcohol, the shock and confusion of how that was even possible. In all the brokenness, it can be hard to understand why all this happens, the truth is, we need God. We need a relationship with a mighty savior that loved us so much. I’m not writing a post about how to change the past or change what has happened, I wanted to write about how we go forward. We move forward, together, and love one another.
I love the weight of the verse above. This is Jesus telling the disciples to love others the way he loved others. The thing is, Jesus loved each of us so dearly, that he gave up his life and died on the cross for each of us. We are called to love one another the way Jesus did, meaning that we have to die to ourselves and show that kind of reckless love as a disciple of Jesus. The song “Reckless Love” has received a lot of flak in the Christian world (which is so dumb), because the word reckless means to be unconcerned about the consequences of an action. I think this word perfectly describes the love of Christ, Jesus wasn’t concerned about going to the cross and to us humans, it doesn’t make sense, it seems reckless. Jesus wasn’t concerned because he knew God’s word and knew that he was saving the world. He was showing the deepest form of love, a sacrificial love for you and me. We are called to love others with that same kind of love. Those who are close to us, we are called to love them. People that aren’t like us, we are called to love them. People we want to hate, we are called to love them. We are not called to love some people, we are called to love one another.
Only hate what is evil.
If we have a God that would send his son to die for you and me, in order to bridge the gap that sin created, we should have no room for hate. Romans 12:19 says, “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.” So many of us hate the people around us when we are called to love others like ourselves. We can hate the evil, the sinful action, the choice one gunman made, the addiction, the action of taking one’s own life; but we should not hate the people. This does not mean we excuse the sin, we do not excuse the action of a sick man who took the lives of seventeen beautiful students, we do what is in line with the consequence of his action within the law. He should be justly punished for the lives he took. At the same time, I pray that God opens his eyes to the pain he caused and that he asks for forgiveness. When I look at what happened with my friend and family member, I do not hate them. I love them, and I’m so thankful that I chose to love them, not the sin, but the person. I have a great relationship with my family member once again and he was able to have freedom from addiction. My friend struggled with mental health struggles and addictions as well, but I do know at one point he had a relationship with Jesus. I choose to hate what is evil, and I choose to love one another.
We are all made in the image of God.
With tragedies like Florida it makes my heart hurt, but at the same time, we still live in a country where people that look differently than me come with a set of stereotypes and we choose to look down. What are we doing? We are all humans, we have all been made in the image of God. Meaning that we are all heirs to the kingdom (Romans 8:17), we are a part of a family. I’m sick and tired of people that don’t look like me, be judged by what they look like rather than who they are. We are brothers and sisters, and to me, I would die for my family. I choose to love the people all around me, whether we look the same or not. We need to understand that we are made in the image of God, no one person is better than another. As followers of Christ, we are to love everyone as Christ loved everyone. Jesus was known as a friend of sinners; Jesus chose to love the people in society that were outcasts and looked down upon. If we choose to be a disciple, that means we must love like Jesus loved, we must love everyone no matter what. We are all made in the image of God, therefore we must love one another.
A lot of these ideas were spurred on by my viewing of Black Panther. I was able to go to the premiere of the new film with my friends and coworkers. The movie is incredible, such a beautiful picture of kingship and walking in victory. Totally going to write a blog with the way the spirit spoke through that film at a later date. One of the most beautiful parts, besides a strong black protagonist and female representation in a well-done story, was the audience. The theater was packed out, no seat was left empty. On the ride home, the Holy Spirit told me that was a picture of heaven. A room of people who are all different, everyone doesn’t look the same or come from the same backgrounds, each have fallen short of God’s glory (I’m included in that), but the Holy Spirit told me that God loves each and every person. In the midst of a world filled with hate and sin, we are not called to sit back, we are called as disciples of Christ, to love fiercely. We are called to love the way Jesus loved when he laid down his life for each of us. Those who are like you, love them. Those who are not like you, love them. Those who hurt others and sin against others, love them. Those who you haven’t even met yet. Love them. Love one another. This is what we are called to. I am never going to forget that theater of such a diverse group, being a picture of heaven. I choose to love in the wake of so much anger and destruction, trusting that God’s plan is bigger. Love on those families affected by the tragedy. Love on the people in your life that are struggle with addiction. Love on the people who struggle with mental health in your life. Love one another; love the way Jesus loved you when he died on the cross to save you and rise again on the third day.
Love one another and love fiercely.
Author’s note: I spoke on depression today, and when I mention it, I know how dark life can seem. I know that you feel alone and hurt, but there is hope. There is always someone there for you and I never want you to feel like you have no other option. If you are feeling suicidal thoughts, I want you to call this number (844) 359-6685
There is never shame in getting professional help and I am a mental health advocate, please get in contact with NAMI (1-800-950-6264), or message me and I can direct you to some great resources.
There is always hope, and your life has value. You are so worth loving.