What Love Looks Like

We hear it so often, it’s become a cliche’.

life-863037_1920This statement is printed on T-shirts and engraved on wall hangings. It’s even a phrase we say to one another, but the question is, do we live it? 

They’ll know us by our love. They’ll know we belong to Christ and have been redeem based on how well we love others. Not just when it’s convenient, and not just for a little while–because that’s not love, at least, not the type of love Jesus modeled.

Jesus was all in, all the time, even when it was hard. Even when those He was loving on spurned Him at every turn. And He never gave up–never gives up. Whether He’s well-received or rejected again and again–and again, His love remains.

That kind of love changes a person. It can turn the self-destructing life around. It can transform entire communities—for generations to come.

And they’ll know us by our love.

That kind of love is hard. That kind of love hurts. That kind of love takes prayer-401401_1920incredible strength and perseverance, the kind only Jesus can give.

Now that I’ve been vague and semi-cryptic, let me give an example, one from current events. The riots. If you were on Facebook anywhere between May and the beginning of July, you probably read numerous opinions. I imagine you even saw a fair amount of hate—from every side of the issue.

But if you looked closely, you probably also saw some incredible love. Initiating, get-in-and-get-your-hands-dirty-and-your-heart-bruised kind of love.

As an example, here in Omaha, one organization in particular responded quickly. Shortly after the riots exploded in Dallas, after the shooting and fear and Facebook frenzy, Abide stepped up and stepped in—with love. Gathering together area churches and community members, they initiated a big prayer rally. A unifying action that created ripples of peace and healing throughout the Omaha Metro.

In other words, they didn’t sit at home behind their computers, sharing memes and girl-1064658_1920Facebook posts. They put action to their words and found a way to be a part of the solution, to demonstrate what real, active, initiating love looks like.

As Abide staff member, Rosie Schuman, Director of Neighborhood Transformation, says, “Our church is called Bridge for a reason. We want to be a bridge to Christ. Sometimes, we have to let people walk all over us to get to Christ. But we choose to let them, so it’s not abusive, we’re not door mats. Christ sure let people walk all over him. Showing love during that time. This is also what love your enemy looks like (Matthew 5:43-48). Staying put when things get hard.

And people took notice. I did. And I was challenged and inspired. Inspired to get off my couch, step out of my home, find someone who’s hurting, even if that hurt looks like anger, and initiate a get-in-and-get-your-hands-dirty-and-your-heart-bruised kind of love.

I’ve been working on that, and it’s been hard. Crazy hard. Harder than any other “mission” I’ve embraced. The easy thing would be to walk away. To guard my heart. To let someone else deal with the problem.

But they will know us by our love. By our initiating, self-sacrificing, persevering love.

The kind of love Jesus showed each of us when He hung on the cross, beaten and broken for us. For all mankind—those that respond to His love and those that reject Him at every turn.

That kind of love changes people. Changes communities. And perhaps most importantly, changes us. Makes us a little more like Jesus so that when people see us—watch our friends-775356_1920actions and choices and hear our words—they see our Savior, and by His grace and mercy, are drawn to Him.

It’s a high calling, this laying down of our life so that Christ might live through us, and in so doing, draw our broken, hurting world to Him. And that, my friend, is how we’ll change the world.

Let’s talk about this! Can you share any times when it was hard to love? Did you love anyway, and what were the results? Can you maybe share a time when you gave up and have regretted doing so? Share your thoughts, ideas, and examples in the comments below, because we can all learn from each other!

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About Jennifer Slattery

Novelist and speaker Jennifer Slattery, also writing as Jen Pheobus, uses humor, grace, and truth to inspire God's children to live abundant, Christ-centered lives. She does content editing for Firefly, a southern fiction imprint with Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, and is a regular contributor to Crosswalk.com; Internet Cafe Devotions; Faith, Friends and Chocolate; and manages the social media for Takin’ it to the Streets, a ministry that serves Omaha’s working poor and homeless. She’s placed in numerous writing contests and her work has appeared in numerous compilations, magazines, and e-zines.
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