Good Christian girls like us know we’re supposed to love our neighbors. Didn’t Jesus tell us to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind,” then to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39, ESV)? These are the two greatest commandments. So why doesn’t loving people who are so different from us come automatically?
As I write this many Afghan families are settling in across the United States. Do you want to tithe your time, go where they are, and love them in words, actions, and deeds? If you’re being honest with yourself, what are your thoughts and feelings about loving people from other faiths and cultures who are very different from you?
“Once I honestly considered that question, everything changed,” confides my friend Rachelle. She was my one super-Christian friend who went overseas as a missionary to love people and bring them to Christ. If anyone would be automatically loving other women well, she would. Yet when she got overseas, she realized, “Uh-oh. I don’t love these women.” What was wrong? That’s not how a good Christian girl was supposed to feel. Through grit and sheer determination, Rachelle fought off the shame of not automatically loving others. She tried to love them. She tried really hard, yet it didn’t happen. She realized that on her own, she was powerless to love the women who were so different from her. Stuck, she cried out to the Lord, “I don’t love these women, Lord. Forgive me. Help me see them and love them like you do.”
You’ll never guess how the Lord responded. He did not immediately open her heart to love them. No, the Lord responded by teaching her first how much he loves her. Then, when Rachelle knew God’s love intimately, his deep, overwhelming love within her effortlessly spilled over to everyone she met. That’s when God’s love flowing through her became automatic.
It can be the same for you. The more secure you become in your love relationship with God, the easier it will be for you to love others who are so very different from you.
Wherever you have been on the loving-others spectrum, notice it. It’s what’s been true of you up to this point. Now you get to make different choices.
How do you want God’s love to flow through you going forward? Do you want it to flow out automatically?
What needs to change for that to happen? What if instead of trying to power through and love others on your own, you studied God’s Word and cried out for the Lord to show you his love for you first?
Could you do that?
The harvest is plentiful, and the workers are few. Now more than ever, it’s time for Jesus-followers to fully realize God’s love and then wield it in this world. People are looking for this kind of transformative love. I pray you will wield it and let it shine through you.
“I have loved you just as the Father has loved Me:
remain in My love (and do not doubt My love for you).”
—John 15:9, AMP