Loving Jesus is hard. Painfully hard. Loving Jesus means so much more than attending church and small group. More than fishes on our cars and crosses our walls. More than giving 10%. More than prayers telling God how great and wonderful and perfect He is.
Jonathan addressed John 21 in the last post when Jesus asked Peter how much he loved Him. Here's Jesus' response: "Tend My lambs," and a second time, "Shepherd My sheep," and the third time, "Tend my sheep." It's clear throughout this passage and others that Christ is referring to His beloved people. Those bearing His image.
I'm reminded of His sheep on the days that I'm overflowing with joy and love for the Lord. Those days, I find myself praying, "Jesus, I love You so much! I wish I could show You how much I love You in a million ways rather than just telling You." Without skipping a beat, I'm taken to Matthew 25, "Then the King [Jesus] will say to those on His right, 'Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.' Then the righteous will answer Him, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You...' The King will answer and say to them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.'"
Jesus' words about the poor, hurting, broken, lost, dying, etc. have hit me harder than ever since I've returned to the states. Perhaps it's culture shock, perhaps it's my daily commute with NPR news, or maybe it's the heart of God. All I know is that the Lord is changing me and growing me, and it hurts. No matter how much Jonathan and I want to be overseas loving the poor, He's made it abundantly clear that He has us in Atlanta for the time being. And thankfully, we can still love the poor here.
Mother Teresa once said, "It's a poverty that a child should die so you can live as you want."
I'm trying to live that out, and it's difficult. For awhile, I've boycotted almost every thing worth boycotting: WalMart, anything made in China, meat, etc. But, I've still felt guilty, like it's not enough. It still leaves me in tears as I hear stories of Palestinians losing their homes, Burmese dying due to military violence or even bad weather, children being abused in Chinese sweatshops, Tibetan monks being murdered for protesting peacefully, Americans being murdered on the streets and dying silently because they can't afford health care. When will it end?
I left church in tears again yesterday, wondering how I could be celebrating when there were people dying left and right without knowing Love. I asked the Lord how long this pain in my heart would last. He said it would last until He has wiped every tear from our eyes. He reminded me that becoming like Him means feeling what He feels. But He also reminded me that He is sovereign. God's arm is not so short that it cannot save. It's important that I love Him by loving the least of these, but it's also important I remember that I will fail. It's not up to me, because God is Almighty. God is sovereign. God is good.
I'm still boycotting WalMart, things made in China, meat, etc. but I'm doing it with joy and freedom, rather than in desperation and guilt. I've remembered God's love, grace, mercy, and sovereignty, and it tastes sweet.
"The Lord of hosts will prepare a lavish banquet for all peoples of this mountain; a banquet of aged wine, choice pieces with marrow, and refined, aged wine. And on this mountain He will swallow up the covering which is over all peoples, even the veil which is stretched over all nations. He will swallow up death for all time, and the Lord god will wipe tears away from all faces. And He will remove the reproach of His people from all the earth; for the Lord has spoken. And it will be said in that day, 'Behold, this is our God for whom we have waited that He might save us. This is the Lord for whom we have waited; Let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation.'" (Isaiah 25: 6-9)
Amen. Come Lord Jesus.