The past few days had been frigidly cold when we found a man sitting near our tables where we serve food to those on the streets. He shared bits and pieces with us of a life I can hardly imagine. And yet, despite his horrible circumstances this man knew something that I’m slow to acknowledge. As we all gathered around, he spoke these words:
“God gave us the Ten Commandments and they’re all about love. I don’t know how we got it so wrong in this country.”
I felt as though his words slammed into my heart and stayed. Because he’s right. And there’s nothing right about it. This man, barely existing, understood what we as Christians should be first in understanding. But we aren’t. Instead we sit in church and think we’ve done our duty. We haven’t even started.
The world is dying because we’ve made the Law a rule to live by instead of the response of a heart captured by love. We’ve become so consumed with making sure we do. everything. exactly. right that we’ve forgotten the spirit of it all. And so the world cries and we do not hear, or if we do we turn away, because the love that touches the broken isn’t in our picture of Christianity.
And we call ourselves His followers?! Him the one who ate with sinners and who waited at the tomb just so Mary’s mourning could be joy, her the one who had been redeemed from defiling sin over and over again. Somehow this doesn’t equate.
When Christ gave the great commission He didn’t mean that His disciples should just preach truth to the world. The gospel is more than that. Yes, it is the truth of redemption and preaching that is a necessity. But unless we live this gospel we are preaching a truth we do not really believe.
If we really love our neighbor as ourselves than we cannot turn away from the pain of the world. By doing that, we permit injustice to continue; lives to be abused; and we tell the world that the God we serve doesn’t care enough to help a life in pain. That’s a problem. And the solution lies, at least partly, with me.
Sir John Powell once said, “Once you say the ‘yes’ of faith to Jesus and accept His blueprint of the fullness of life, the whole world can no longer revolve around you, your needs, your gratifications; you’ll have to revolve around the world, seeking to bandage its wounds, loving dead men into life, finding the lost, wanting the unwanted, and leaving behind all selfish, parasitic concerns which drain our time and energies.”
This is a lesson I’m slow to learn and even slower to live, but I intend to live the gospel that I believe. This doesn’t mean I’ll need to be rescuing those trapped in the worlds worst conditions, but it does mean that I cannot turn away and pretend that they don’t exist. I must let His love flow through me however He asks. And so I’m asking Him to teach me to learn to “love not (only) in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:18).
Of course it’s easier to turn away. Love costs. But Love has also transformed my life and I want the world to know Him too.