Above All Things: Love
—2 John 1-13
"Walking in love." This topic brings to mind giving through using our hearts, hands and minds to serve others. Jesus is our mentor. He fed the 5,000. He healed the spiritually sick and the physically sick. Jesus forgave people of their were sins. He was humble in his giving and never asked for loud recognition. He knew what his Father had sent him to do. Jesus is our mentor, our model, or example of how to love others.
When we try to live a life of love, we fall short. We feel too little, too selfish, too judgmental, too in need of praise. The path of love is straight, but sometimes we stumble off of this path. Sometimes we think we can do this "love" thing all alone, and we fail every time because of our attitude.
Love is an amazing cycle—the more we seek the love of God, the more love we receive, and the more love we can give, then the more we feel like a loving person. Finally we are changed so that loving becomes easier the more we give. The lyrics of a song reminds us that "love isn't love unless we give it away." Do you believe that?
Jesus says we must love one another, our neighbors. He says we are to love without judging others. He says we are not to cast stones at others but to accept others for what they are, remembering that we, too, are sin-full. We are reminded that we are not loved because we deserve it but because God's love is unconditional. Isn't that a revolutionary concept, unconditional love? God gave His only son for us. Why? Because he loved us so much! Can you imagine that? It is such a humbling reality.
This year it has been my privilege to learn a lot about love by working with those who are really living their lives in love—those who have consciously chosen Jesus as their Savior and are on this path of love with him as their mentor.
The General Board of Global Ministries sent two unrequested young women mission interns to Mongolia in October 2009. Why? I wondered. But it took only a short time to realize the women's lives were blessing us in Mongolia and were showing me the way of love on which I had been stumbling.
Holli Vining and Erin Eidenshink came to serve for one and half years on the first part of their mission intern assignment. Not knowing what their role would be in Mongolia, they came and said to me many times and said, "We will help you however you need help." Wow! What a huge gift of love was felt in those words. I felt such a burden was lifted from me.
These young women were sent for training in the mission field but have instead been teaching us how to serve. Their interactions with the children, youth, adults and elderly have been amazing. In this country where warm, kind touching is sometimes not felt, there were hugs. Where loving, affirming words are not often said, Holli and Erin taught that kind, encouraging words could make a difference. By teaching English, cooking class, working with the youth and young adults and hosting pizza parties at their apartment, by being available to these young people, their faith has been shown through the demonstration of the love that Jesus taught them. Their actions and words have been consistent. These young women will move on to the second half of their assignment in one month with our blessing, and I know they will be a blessing to those whom they serve for the next one and half years.
In this Lenten season I'd also like lift up our two mission center managers. It seems they were made out of the same material. These two middle-aged women are the most kind, compassionate, steadfast people in our mission program. They always seem to have their eyes out for the needs of the people with whom they come in contact, praying diligently for others and helping with whatever work is needed, including scrubbing the floors. Yes, our two United Methodist mission centers have been blessed. The foreigners come and go, but these two women are Mongolians, and so their witness is the most important, as they will continue to lead others to God by their example and sharing of the Good News.
In our world today it seems that love is not reigning. There are so many signs of hate, competition for power and lack of tolerance of differences of people of varying backgrounds. Jesus did not merely suggest that we love one another. He commanded us to love one another. Love is not an option for those who follow Jesus, it's a state of being.
As we continue in this season of Lent and are attempting to know Jesus better, perhaps this is an area on which we can focus: Loving one another. The path of love may not always be the easier path to take in life as many forces seem to influence us, lead us away from that road, but these often quoted words of poet Robert Frost in his poem "The Road Less Traveled" seem to sum up this choice of following Jesus down the path of love: "I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference." What about you and your life? Which road are you choosing?
Gracious, loving Jesus, I can't walk this path all alone. I just keep wandering off of this road you have taught me to take. Forgive me, lead me, encourage me, and continue to love me into following this path wherever it leads. Only with you showing the way and loving me unconditionally, can I continue on this path. Amen.