Recent events in the world – regarding Ferguson, Missouri, ISIS, Russia, and so on – have been deeply disturbing. There is so much unrest, discontent, hatred. Darkness. Big problems with complicated solutions at best can make us feel like we can do nothing. What must be done to bring resolution? What can we do?
And today I ran into this reminder to see the big picture. It’s about real hope and real change…
“In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his son to be the propitiation [atoning sacrifice] for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” (1 John 4:10-11)
God loved us… this whole angry, hurting, prideful, mixed up lot of us. Not just me, not just me and you, not just Americans or Christians or people who are kind of like us or “decent folk” we like to be around. We are not okay, not one of us. No one is better than another. And he loved us still.
I catch my breath, and read the words again. There it is: the illustration and definition of what love is. The heart of God reached down into our little world, and loved us in spite of us. Enough to send his son, his only son, to death for our sake. That is some kind of crazy, strong love.
See, we are rebels, one and all, and his love is not choosy. We like to choose sides and jump on bandwagons, pat ourselves on the back and try to look good to others. But it is no good. It’s us – all of us – against God, and we have won our death. We are the rebels assaulting the beauty he created. He is the Grace redeeming us anyway.
He loved us. Enough to send his son as a ransom, buying us out of our own sin. One life for another. His life for all of us. Like a prisoner swap. Only it was his idea born out of his amazing love and unstoppable grace.
So then, here’s the catch: who are we – if he loved us so, loved us like that – who are we to refuse to love one another? Could we be so arrogant? But how can we love the liar, the rioter, the traitor, the thief, the executioner, those with hardened hearts of darkness and hate? Maybe we cannot. Cannot love those so similar to ourselves, by ourselves.
But God can. The power of his love is no small thing, and it is up to the challenge. He is eager to love us. To change our hearts. To love through us. To empower us to love.
That is the meaning of it all, the mystery of the ages. Our purpose in this life is to love. To be loved and to love, in that order.
So remember who you are, beloved, and go out loving. Through kindness and service, through prayer and sacrifice and maybe tears. No matter what the world might be doing around you, remember to love. Love God. Love one another. Amen.