Thursday, April 20, 2017

Choosing a Lifestyle of Love Even When We Don't Want to Risk It

Yesterday, I wrote about the dilemma of actions and consequences and the importance of making wise choices. Today, as promised, we're considering the importance of choosing a lifestyle of radical love.

"Radical" is more commonly associated with terrorists than Christians, but (according to Merriam-Webster Dictionary) the primary meaning is "from the root," such as a plant that grows from a root-like stem. 

When we're rooted and grounded in Christ, our growth should be, in a way, radical. Instead of a long, leggy stem that puts us far from Christ, we, too, should grow close to the root.

 A secondary meaning of "radical" is the one that's used more commonly today. "Very different from the usual or traditional" describes the kind of love disciples of Christ are supposed to have for those around us. 

"Radical love" extends past those who will love us in return, and includes everyone, including those who don't love us. 

When John wrote, "Whoever does not love does not know God," he wasn't kidding. 

Let's read those words aloud. "Whoever does not love does not know God." 

We can choose not to love the unlovely, the people who are different from us, the people we fear, but, when we don't love, according to John, we tell the world, "I don't know God." 

Consider that for a moment. Yeah. It's an ouch, isn't it?

For disciples of Christ, radical love is not optional. 

I had breakfast with friends at a local restaurant recently. The waitress approached our table just before we offered the blessing. One of my friends smiled and said, "We were just about to pray over our food. How can we pray for you?" 

The love with which she listened and prayed for our waitress, a stranger, was radical love.

"Father, forgive them, for they don't know what they're doing," is radical love.

When we reach past our prejudice to love those who are least like us, we begin to love as Jesus loved. When we look past skin color, lifestyle choices, piercings, tattoos, and head coverings to see the person inside, we see as Jesus sees. 

When we reach out with love to those around us, we begin to grow a little closer to the root (Jesus) with radical love.

Will our radical love always yield a warm and fuzzy result? No. Probably not. Nevertheless, it's not optional. 

I hope to give you a chance to exhibit radical love a little later this year. One of my colleagues and I are planning a cross-cultural communication experience. We'll be inviting Muslim women and Christian women for tea and conversation. 

Muslims and Christians will talk together about challenges with children, culture, families and faith. We'll listen to each other, get to know one another. 

It's what  I do every time I go to Arabic lessons. It's not scary. It's not hard. (Well, learning Arabic is hard. Befriending my tutor is not.) 

I'll write more about it later, but, for now, consider the possibility that the woman wearing the head scarf is just like most of us, living the faith into which she was born. She's living what she knows. We are, too.

Here's the difference: We have a risen Savior who loves everyone with abandon. He's not a remote figure who lived and died and remained in the grave. He's risen and reigning and with us by His Spirit. 

We have a reason to love, and a command to love. The only choice we have in love is whether or not we'll obey.

Today, let's consider all the people God brings into our path and ask God to plant His love in us. Let's allow that love to extend to all and demonstrate that love with smiles, kind words, helping hands, welcoming hearts.

The ones who don't know God don't love. The ones who know Him, do. Which ones are we?

"Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love." 1 John 4:8
In case you missed yesterday's post, here's the link: When Our Actions Choose Our Consequences 

If you feel led to partner with this ministry (US, Jordan, the digital world), here's the link to give your tax-deductible donations: Global Outreach Acct 4841 

Or you can mail your check or money order to: Global Outreach/ PO Box 1, Tupelo MS 38802. Be sure to put Account 4841 in the "for" line.

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