Unconditionally and Unreservedly
There's a story in the Bible that tells of a man who asked Jesus what the most important law is. Jesus' answer had two parts:
- Love God.
- Love others.
Maybe its the business student in me, but I love how efficient and how simple his answer was. And even more than that, I love how profoundly it can change our lives and even our world.
I first learned this idea last summer while listening to Andy Stanley's podcast about the term "Christian", and what it really means and does not mean. Among many great points, he suggested that if Christians got nothing else right, but we unconditionally and unreservedly loved the people we share this planet with, we would see a slow but definite godly transformation in the world. Sounds far-fetched at best, right?
But the more he talked the more I understood.
What if we began to see every single person as a individual created and deeply loved by God? Seriously, stop and think about it... God loves every single person enough to die for them. There is no better way to honor God and honor His sacrifice than by loving the ones He loves.
What if before we reacted, we remembered that every person has a past and their own set of struggles, just like you and me? Or simply that they are human too, and subject to mistakes and high emotions?
What if instead of assessing the surface of another's situation and judging it based on our values, we let that be between God and them and we simply look for ways to love them?
How would the world's view of God's people change? How would this deepen the hearts of Christians and grow the influence of the Church?
In the beginning I struggled to understand how exactly this is applied?? It's hard to love people that aren't living according to my own set of values or someone that I don't know (or worse, someone that I do know and I know they don't deserve my love)!
And that's when God asks me if I'm perfect? ...and I would really like to say sometimes, but no.
Do I deserve His love? ...again, no...
Do I deserve His grace? ...still, no...
And does God still love me? Humbled, I give my answer, unconditionally and unreservedly yes.
Obviously, I'm not fit to judge anyone. Or to deny them the same love and grace that I've been given. I decided that I would do my best to rewire my brain so that I would remember to ask this simple question in every situation: "How can I love this person now?" Or even better, "How would Jesus love this person now?" And I've found Andy's hypothesis to be true.
Even if I get nothing else right, but I unconditionally and unreservedly love other people with my respect, kindness, generosity, patience, and understanding, I become an open channel through which God can and will reach the world.
In the past few months, I've had the incredible privilege and opportunity to pour God's love on so many people in my life. My classmates, my friends, my family, the employees of the stores that I shop at, waitresses and cashiers, and many of the people I've met just going through life.
And just to clarify, I'm not talking about carrying around the Bible and loudly preaching the gospel. I'm also not suggesting that anyone condone or support things they don't believe in.
I'm absolutely talking about giving smiles and encouragement, sharing time and resources, giving respect and our full attention, taking the time to try to understand first and then being kind to them even when their actions or beliefs don't line up with ours. I'm talking about loving everyone we meet unconditionally and unreservedly.
Jesus said, "Whatever you did for the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me". Whatever it is, if I would do it for my Lord, I want to do it for the ones He loves.
As Christians, it's not our job to approve or disapprove, support or protest, it's simply our job to love. And when we do that, everything else falls into place.
I want to encourage you to take this radical idea to work and back home with you, to church and to the streets, to people you don't know and to those it feels like you know too well, to the many in this world that desperately need to be loved. I've already heard some amazing stories about what's happened when some of my friends have explored this idea. I'd love to hear your stories as well!
In Unconditional and Unreserved Love,