One of the most simple and profound aspects of God’s faithfulness is found in the word love. Love shows up in Scripture when describing both who God is and how God acts in the world on behalf of God’s covenant people. Love is embodied in Jesus’ incarnation, life, death, and resurrection, and it is His call to His disciples.
The Gospel of John talks about love in reference to Jesus returning to the Father and in Jesus’ love for His own in the world (John 13:1). In this passage, as a gesture of selfless love, Jesus takes the form of a servant and washes His disciples’ feet, even as He knows of impending betrayals (John 13:2-5). After Jesus goes on with His teachings, He then leaves His disciples with the statement: Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another (v. 34).
Does it really come down to that simple command—to love? Yes. There also lies the hard part: how to love in all circumstances. The real challenge of faithfulness to God is in how we live out God’s love for the world and express it in our daily lives. Love takes on many shapes and forms in a community through the participation of its members. How do we love our neighbors when our neighbors may not be very lovable, or when their situations seem insurmountable? How we love, especially and precisely then, is where we really begin to lean into what it means to be a Jesus follower.
Of course, what we know in fact is harder in practice. Jesus’ own life and death are further testimony of this. Jesus, as the embodiment of God's love for the world, poured Himself out even when it meant suffering and humiliation, betrayal and death. This simple command “to love as I have loved you,” is completely counter- cultural and—truth be told—quite overwhelming. The reality is that Jesus’ call to love is hard work, and it takes all of who we are as humans. And yet, the equally radical promise is that this kind of love reflects God’s love for us. And it will change the world.
Following the two central commands to love God and neighbor is truly a lifelong pursuit. And yet, as we show up, God’s love and grace shows up, too. In the following pages, you will encounter beautiful, labor- filled expressions of what it means to show up—to love God and neighbor in all sorts of circumstances.
Some in these stories are following in Jesus' footsteps, sowing seeds of love at great risk to their lives. Others endure how to love through many trials and much suffering. All of these faithful servants, through the creative power of the Holy Spirit, are seeking and finding new pathways to express a tangible love for those enduring desperate circumstances— physical abuse, neglect, economic crisis, war. Their love is motivated by the love of Jesus and following His way in the world. It is not an easy road, but one full of grace and hope. What an amazing testimony to the love of God for the world. For as Jesus said: "By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13: 35). To God be the glory.
This article taken from the latest NCM Magazine. Read more of this issue here.