Churches everywhere are faced with the all-important question: How can they show love the way Jesus did? With doctrinal differences on every side, how can the average Christian reach out to those who don’t share their beliefs and still hold fast to what they themselves believe? And, above all, how can a Christian show love to those who do share their viewpoint?
The overall answer is found in the words of John, one of the divinely-inspired writers of the Holy Bible: Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. Basically, if one is of God, he will have love. Jesus Himself showed love to those who hated Him. On the cross of Calvary, He begged God the Father to forgive His enemies, saying that they did not know what they were doing. His love in the face of such cruelty makes your own task pale by comparison. So, how about a few practical applications?
Dealing with those not of the household of faith, there are many roads to showing them Christian love.
Start with the everyday tasks, the moments that you all take for granted. In the grocery store, consider the needs of the elderly woman in line ahead of you. A warm smile, gentle mannerism, and the offer to assist her would more than make her day – and would be an unassailable tribute to the witness of Jesus. Consider the postal worker, the cashier, the cart-pusher, all of the people you meet every day. Wouldn’t a simple greeting be enough to brighten the tediousness of their work? So often, we take these people for granted, forgetting that each person has a soul and a story to tell.
However, you can go so much farther with the applications to showing the love of Jesus. Taking the question “What Would Jesus Do?” seriously and not as a popular cliché might show you more about yourselves – and about others. Jesus comforted the hopeless, healed the sick, taught the ignorant, and loved the innocent. Can you do any less? Like Jesus, can you give up comfort for love-inspired servitude? After all, true love makes it sacrifices. Practical applications might include giving up going to a popular movie and going instead to a local nursing home. Or how about the most painful sacrifice of all – limiting your pleasure-money and instead donating it to a needy mother, soup kitchen, or missionary board?
Dealing with fellow-Christians, there is an equal number of practical applications you may assume towards showing the love of Jesus.
Again, start with the simple things. Often times, a small gift or card is all that is needed to show the love of the Savior to a hurting Christian. Can you take a simple five minutes out of your schedule to write a note to someone – even when it’s not that person’s birthday or anniversary? Perhaps you really have no reason at all to write that person – except that they are a soul whom Jesus loves and they may need encouragement.
Moving on to the harder ways of expressing your love to the believers, one may want to again consider making the two most difficult sacrifices known to mankind – money and time. As a gift that can never be had again, time is especially vital. Sacrificing those “important” hours to talk to a hurting friend on the phone or to have lunch with a struggling couple speaks volumes of love. Love is proclaimed even louder when you give up of yourself for someone who has no obvious problems. God alone knows the heart of an individual, and you may never know how the expressing of your love through simple gestures changed someone’s life.
Above all, whether dealing with fellow-believers or a bitter agnostic, consider the way you view others. Jesus looked out on the multitudes with compassion – you should no less. Every individual, whether at the local Wal-Mart or Bible-believing church, is well-beloved by God and should be treated as such. One does not have to give up their beliefs to show love – after all, the Bible is clear that we can do everything right and still be counted as nothing if you have no love. Keep your convictions, stand fast for your Lord – and look out on a hurting world with His eyes.
Every individual is a soul with a story to tell. Remembering this may be your greatest practical application of showing the love of Jesus.