Earlier this fall I posted something opinionated about the presidential election on facebook. Truth is, I’m full of opinions and often share them publicly. A friend of mine challenged my stance and wouldn’t let up. He insulted me and others who participated in the discussion and refused engage in a respectful manner. As the argument unfolded I realized I had a choice – I could keep trying to prove I was right or I could make sure he knew I loved him. Choosing to express my affection for him allowed us to deepen our friendship outside of facebook.
It’s no secret our country is divided. To me, it feels like an uncertain time with an uncertain future, but this means Christians have an opportunity to boldly shine. In a time of fear Christians have the chance to spread Jesus’ radical message of LOVE with reckless abandon, to be bridge builders and peacemakers, to resist fear, shame, and oppression with steadfast and unwavering kindness and compassion.[quote style=”boxed” quote float=”left”]Brothers and sisters, I believe this year can be a year of radical love for CCDA. I hope you will join me in constant prayer that God will be brightly revealed through us. I hope you will join me in the work to constantly choose love, patience, and kindness.[/quote]
This is how I hope Christians will demonstrate Christ’s radical love in 2017:
Renew our identity as children of God
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let’s remember we are brothers and sisters, that we are family and that we belong to each other. Let’s be reminded that our first love is Jesus and He is the one deserving of our loyalty.
“What marvelous love the Father has extended to us! Just look at it—we’re called children of God! That’s who we really are. But that’s also why the world doesn’t recognize us or take us seriously, because it has no idea who he is or what he’s up to.” 1 John 3:1
Seek out the other
Too often we stay in our circle of friends, family, and colleagues. We don’t build relationships with people who are different from us. Reaching out to people is hard. It is scary and requires humility. It comes with potential rejection and embarrassment. Do it anyway. God doesn’t tell us to love each other only when it’s convenient. Building bridges requires us to reach out. When we build authentic relationships with people who are different than us we expand our world view and become better at loving each other.
Listen to each other
True compassion and love is based in the truth. We must listen to each other and believe the truth of our experiences. When you tell me you are in pain my love for you requires me to hear you, to believe you, and to be with you. Love without truth is false. Hearing each other’s pain is hard. We may learn that we have been the cause of the pain. But we can work it out. We can listen to each other and face our pain with patience and kindness.
Keep at it
Loving each other with reckless abandon takes practice. Keep trying, keep listening, keep doing it. Don’t give shame or fear or guilt any place in our relationships. Be relentlessly compassionate.
Brothers and sisters, I believe this year can be a year of radical love for CCDA. I hope you will join me in constant prayer that God will be brightly revealed through us. I hope you will join me in the work to constantly choose love, patience, and kindness.
“It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that’s how freedom grows. For everything we know about God’s Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That’s an act of true freedom.” Galatians 5:13, 14