JOY in Love-Actions
As I sat quietly on a warm, sticky summer morning doing my devotional, this one verse in 1 Peter resonated with me.
“Live such good lives among pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.” 1 Peter 2: 12
It caused me to wonder,why, as Christians, do we think that the answer is verbally judging or condemning someone?
We live in a humanly judgmental time. A time where everyone has to give their two-cents about anything and everything, no matter how important or unimportant the topic may be. And heaven forbid that someone disagree with your opinion. That would just be unacceptable. As we sit behind our computer screen, avidly typing a reply to a post or comment on Facebook, about to tell people how we really feel, I sit and think how? How in the world does that solve anything?
As Christians, it is understood that we live amongst non-Christians: non-Christians who were raised in a different religion, who have been hurt by the church, who have been hurt by another Christian, or who may disagree with the hypocrisy that they have witnessed some churches and church-goers partake in. Whatever the reason may be for choosing to not accept and believe in Christ, starting a heated debate with a non-believer where harsh words are said is never the answer. It is the sure quickest way to get that person to push you and Christ as far away as possible and get an even more sour taste in their mouth against Christianity.
The greatest and most effective way to reach someone is through actions carried out in love. We live in a technologically advanced era where everyone can see everything about anyone. Yes, this can be a good thing in that it opens up a new way to connect with people, but at the same time, it makes it even easier to see someone’s life and see where and how they mess up. Because people not only see you in person, but they also see you in many different outlets, it makes it even more important to live a life of love and kindness. You can no longer just “act nice” when you think someone is watching (and honestly, that shouldn’t be what you do anyways).
What you have to do now more than ever is live every moment of every day of every week of every month of every year, now until you enter through the gates of Heaven, spreading God’s love to others by His overflowing love in you. And if you truly love and trust and believe in God as your father and savior, loving others shouldn’t be a chore. It should literally be second nature to live a life that even if you could never say one word, no one ever doubted who your savior was.
The catch to these love-actions though (because there is always a catch, right?), is that no matter how hard you love someone, no matter how much you do for someone else, they still may not love you back. It’s understanding that even if you show others love, they may not only ignore you, but they may also be mean and hurtful. You know what, though? You love them anyways.
“When they hurled insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered he made no threats. Instead he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.” 1 Peter 2: 23
If someone is mean to you? Love them anyways. If someone doesn’t agree with you? Love them anyways. If someone does something that you don’t agree with? Love them anyways. And loving them doesn’t mean a half-wit, “I can see straight through your fake and strained smile” kind of love, it means a deep and real love that comes straight from Christ’s love for you. It means actively listening, it means genuinely smiling and opening your arms instead of shaking your head and turning away because of disapproval. It means that no matter how many times you are rejected and pushed away, you keep on loving them because Jesus loves (that’s right…loves…active-tense) you.
It shouldn’t make us mad or upset when people still choose to push us away. It doesn’t mean we take a “Fine. Be that way attitude.” We serve an audience of One, and as long as we are fulfilling his purpose for us by spreading His gospel through kind words and actions, we are good., we are not phased, our love for others will not be extinguished.
What I think is funny when it comes to loving others, that, as Christians, we really don’t give a definition of how to love others. Now, what we do define is romantic love. Couples always want to read those verses in 1 Corinthians 13 at their wedding, and that’s great. But what we need to realize, is that definition of love is not just for romantic love or for loving those close to us. That definition of love is how we should love everyone. That’s right. Everyone. Every random person we encounter, we should love them as we would love our spouse, as we would love our parents, as we would love our best friend.
Jesus hung out with the lepers, and Jesus mingled with the non-believers. He listened to people people who were viewed less than. Loving someone doesn’t mean making them your definition of perfect before you can love them. Loving someone doesn’t mean fixing them. Loving someone means being patient, it means being kind, it means being humble, it means putting others first, it means forgiving someone when they mess up, it means not holding grudges. It means that even if we don't agree with them on something, we don't jump down their throats, but we listen. Loving someone simply means loving them. Loving them as they are when you first see them. Loving them throughout their journey and all of the detours they may take.
Our job is to show love through our actions and words. Our job is to show others the love that Christ shows us day in and day out no matter how broken we may be. Our job is to show others how good God really is, not to show others how good we think we are. We must show others God’s gospel through love in hopes of planting a seed that God can water and make grow.
Our job is not to judge; it is not to heal – those jobs are God’s. So let’s do our job of loving and spreading the gospel, and let’s let God do his of healing the world.