When we first announced that we were moving to Kenya, it was met with a variety of responses. Some people were very excited for us; they cheered us on to follow what we felt like God was stirring within us. Others asked us if we were “sure” that is what we wanted to do. Why give up our life in the United States? We quit our jobs! (This statement still seems a bit unreal… I quit my money-making, security filled job!). We sold most of our belongings. We left the comforts of culture, family, and friends. But why? What would compel us to make these choices?
To be honest, some days I still ask myself these questions. Why, Lord? The simplest answer is because that is what He called us to do.
Maybe you still think we are crazy, and maybe we are a bit. But I know this, God the creator of the entire universe, crazily loves me. This crazy love has been evident in each step of faith we have taken not only in Kenya but in life. He has been pressing this concept of love on my heart over the past few weeks. How do we love? Who do we love? Jesus gave us the answers to these questions.
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Matthew 22:37-39
Love your neighbor as yourself. Repeat this out loud. I have read this verse a thousand time and said “yeah, yeah, love your neighbor as yourself.” When I read the verse this time, I felt the weight of this verse. Wow. Hmm. “Love your neighbor as yourself.” This one can be difficult. Sure, it is easy if your neighbor shares your belief system, your culture, your values. But what if your neighbor is the exact opposite of all of these things? How then do we love? There is no additional explanation given, no parameters to this love. No “if” statements or “buts.” We are to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. No grey area, none. How am I loving my neighbor? Am I opening my home? Do I have time for a conversation, let alone a meal, for someone who lives down the street, or coffee with the lady I see often at the local coffee shop?
If we are a believer in Jesus Christ, we are called to love. Love God and love people well.
Believe me, I am writing this as much as a confession and personal aspiration than I am to those reading it. My heart yearns to love well, to see lives changed through the powerful love of God. A love so strong that He sent his Son to die on the cross for my weary, dirty self. Praise God for this expression and outpouring of love! Praise God that my sin has been covered by the eternal lamb, and he has paved the way for redemption for all mankind. What a love we have to announce and share with others, with our neighbors.
Are we crazy? Probably. But we are living out the call that God has placed on our lives. This call is the same call that he has placed on you as a Christ follower. We are to go and make disciples. But we all know, not everyone is called to go to Africa. Maybe your calling is in PTA, in your grandchildren, in English as a Second Language Training, or in the Sumner Country Jail. Every day is not full of happy, carefree love. There are some rough ones for sure. But God still lavishes his love on us each and every day. His mercies are new each morning. May our love separate us from any other generation, any other time in history. “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:35) May people be pointed to God Almighty through the love of a neighbor. May we be disciples of Jesus Christ, loving each other well. Love swelling up, conquering fear, covering sin. May it be so: “Love my neighbor as I love myself.”