The Holy Spirit reveals to me that God loved me not because I was lovable, but because it was His nature to do so. Now He commands me to show the same love to others by saying, “… love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12). Oswald Chambers
Jesus doesn’t see a prostitute, a tax collector, a liberal, a conservative, a Christian, a Jew, a Muslim, a drug addict, an LGBT*, or someone who has had an abortion. He sees a child of God and he loves us deeply.
Jesus didn’t exclude, he invited. He didn’t seek out vice, he sought virtue. He didn’t disgrace, he offered dignity. We are here to do the same – to be imitators of God.
“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.” (Ephesians 5:1-2)
Eugene Peterson’s The Message pulls out the meat of this verse beautifully:
Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.
Those who don’t understand this kind of love have a diminished view of the Gospel. Those who think their only call is to evangelize and convert haven’t taken the fullness of God’s love and peace into their hearts.
He says, “It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant To raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also make You a light of the nations So that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth.” (Isaiah 49:6)
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28)
“But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners. If you had known what ‘I want mercy, not sacrifices’ means, you would not have condemned innocent people.” (Matthew 9:13, 12:7)
The nations include our own nation. And no matter who we are, what we to or have done, we are unified by the same Jesus who sacrificed his earthly life for us to be his brothers and sisters in love and grace in the family of God. We are all children of the Father. We have the same Holy Spirit inside who was inside Jesus and his disciples. We are not to judge or pull out verses to condemn people; we are to offer mercy and grace to all so the light of Jesus is reflected to all.
In order to be a light, we must allow God to remove any and all harshness, shaming, and value judgments.
This love Christ asks of us isn’t weak; it isn’t easy to maintain. This love is not reactive, it is responsive. In order to offer it, we must practice daily wholly surrendering our own feelings and thoughts; mind and heart; opinions and actions to the Holy Spirit’s guidance. These are the rivers of living water he told us we would have flowing from within our hearts. (John 7:38)
The alternative to fresh, flowing, living water is a cistern holding stale, putrid water no good for drinking, no good for healing, no good for delivering.
“My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.” Jeremiah 2:13