February 1, 2018
"We love because he first loved us." 1 John 4:19 (NIV)
I was enchanted by my friend's creative idea, but my practical brain decided that it probably wouldn't work.
In the midst of our group's planning session, Nanette pitched a wild plan for the upcoming women's conference that we'd be leading in India. From Scripture and her own experiences, she'd teach that each of us are the dearly loved bride of Christ, and then we'd stage a wedding.
Nanette explained that she'd bring a veil for each attendee to wear and flowers for her to carry. One by one, each woman would take her turn, picturing Jesus at the altar as she walked down an aisle formed by rows of other women.
I was unconvinced women would engage ... but wow, was I wrong. I drastically underestimated the power of God's presence when He wants His girls to know they're loved. Each individual walked the aisle, moved to tears as she felt Jesus receiving her as His beloved.
Too soon the exercise seemed over, but there was one unnoticed woman remaining. Babita, one of the Indian leaders, approached a wizened woman curled into near-invisibility in a chair at the edge of the room. "Auntie," she said gently, "it's your turn." In a Spirit-led act of love, Babita took her hand, helped her out of the chair and led her toward our group.
The frail old woman took her place at the end of the aisle made of her sisters, and she slowly walked, eyes fixed on the space at the end, with tears streaming down her face. The pastor's wife leaned over to tell me the woman's story. "That woman is dying," she whispered, "but she just learned that Jesus is her Savior, and she prayed to make Him her Lord weeks ago."
In that moment, something broke in me.
Along with the rest of the weeping room, I felt the weight and glory of God's irresistible love. It was a moment of deep healing for me, and I believe the rest of the women there experienced His power, too.
I've told this story over and over again from my perspective, the view of a woman who needed the heart-mending of God's love. But today I'm seeing the scene in a new light.
What if Babita hadn't reached out to that old woman and noticed her? What would that woman have missed? What would the rest of us have missed?
Babita lived out the words, "We love because He first loved us" (1 John 4:19).
John finishes chapter 4 with, "And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister" (1 John 4:21, NIV). In that command, I hear echoes of a prayer that Jesus prayed - a prayer John must have heard. In the presence of His disciples, Jesus prayed for all believers, including you and me: "I in them and you in me - so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me" (John 17:23, NIV).
Babita partnered with God in the same way that we're called to partner with Him. Our love for others unleashes an explosion of God's love.
When I look at myself through Jesus' eyes, I know that even when I feel invisible or act out, He still loves me unwaveringly. Because of His deep love for me, I'm called not only to return it to Him, but to love others so He's revealed to a world that desperately needs Him.
His love for us must convert to love for others so the world will know Him. It's a virtuous cycle that conquers the vicious cycle of this world's discord and division. Just like Babita, let's use this day to focus on love - but not just for the lovable. Let's create a love explosion as we love the invisible, those we might have overlooked otherwise.
Lord, give me Your eyes and heart to love others even when it's hard. I want to partner with You to unleash Your love into the world so that You become known. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
John 15:12-13, "My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends." (NIV)
John 1:14, "So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father's one and only Son." (NLT)
As we enter February, a month focused on love in many parts of the world, maybe you need a reminder of how much God loves you and wants you to truly know Him. Knowing God’s peace, perspective and purpose for your life begins with a personal relationship with Jesus. If you'd like to get to know the real Jesus, we'd love to help you get started. Just click here to learn more.
Jump over to Amy Carroll's blog today for practical tips on how to love others when it's difficult.
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Think about your sphere of influence. Try to identify someone in your life who needs love despite the presence of obstacles to loving them.
As you go through your day today, pray and ask God to show you one or two people who need to be loved like Jesus loves them, and then show love to them. We're excited to hear about your Spirit-led acts of love today in the comments!
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