By: Judah Thomason
Most people start their week on a Monday by going to work or school and then dreading the rest of the week. I used to have a similar mindset, but I have something so special this year. This year, my week actually starts on a Tuesday. Since I look forward to Tuesday, my sometimes rough Mondays aren’t that rough anymore. I can’t tell you why this day is so life giving to me, but sometimes God works in ways we don’t expect and we are pleasantly surprised. On Tuesday I have Bible study at 6:30 a.m. with some wonderful women before we head off to our classes for the day. It’s really early but absolutely the best way to spend that time-- who really needs sleep anyway? I always feel so enriched by this Bible study and honestly, these women and Scripture together are the highlight of my day and my week!
Last week, I got out my Bible as we read 1 Peter. We always come away with a challenge at the end of every meeting and this week we were meditating and thinking about how our daily lives would change if we lived like we’re a temple of the Holy Spirit and how differently would we treat others if we remembered that they are a temple of the Holy Spirit too. I’ll be honest, this sounded cool, but like a lot of work. I put it in the back of my mind and decided that maybe I’d think about it later. However, I didn’t know what the Lord was going to reveal to me: that He had a different plan and wanted it in the front of my mind.
As the weekend came around, some family came into town and we had one of my big family gatherings with food, family, and good times. I was sitting next to one of my family members and thinking about some of their struggles when the Holy Spirit clearly set it on my heart that Jesus is in this person. I realized that my God is worthy of all my love and that even loving Him through this person is so important to Him. I brushed that thought away a little bit, but He persisted and I realized I needed to go back to the very foundation of the human person and the make up of who I am and of who everyone is. Every child of God, with all their baggage and everything that comes with them, the Lord loves. Why shouldn’t I love them too? Thankfully with the Lord’s grace I could push away my pride and look past my family member’s faults and decide to look at them as someone God loves so infinitely that He’d die for them all over again. I looked at my relative and for the first time I saw a tiny bit of what God sees. I saw a person worth spending time with and worth sacrificing for. He gave me this gift for just a minute: to see through His eyes. He offers this to us often, and unfortunately, I think we are moving too fast or are too preoccupied to notice and accept; I know I often am. He wants us to love! He’s willing and ready to teach us.
On Sunday, as I was still dwelling on Bible study, I asked God, “How can I radically love people?” One thing I often forget is that God answers when we ask. If I need Him, nothing will hold Him back from helping me, especially if it’s a simple truth He’s revealing to me again. This time was no exception. That's exactly what He did for me, and it came through the Gospel reading from Mark
One of the scribes came to Jesus and asked him, "Which is the first of all the commandments?" Jesus replied, "The first is this: Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these." (Mark 12: 28-31)
The greatest commandments are to love the Lord your God and your neighbor as yourself. I asked God how can I radically love others and He gave me these words! But He doesn’t stop there. He also says the first shall be last and the last shall be first. He says to love our enemies. He asks us to thank him for the challenges. He tells us to forget ourselves and empty our hearts so the King of Kings can fill and satisfy us. He wants us to begin to shine as He shines. These are not easy requests! Before Jesus, no one told people to lay themselves down for enemies! No one had or ever will have the perfect love of Jesus Christ. Yet, He calls us to it.
Christ wants you to know you are infinitely valuable to Him. Like Matthew Kelly says, “So often the world wants to belittle us and put us down. The world can be so impersonal, reducing us to numbers or defining us by our functions. But, Jesus offers a radically different view. He says, ‘You are infinitely valuable.’ In great contrast to the depersonalization of the world, Jesus affirms God’s personal interest in you, even to the numbering of the hairs on your head. Jesus wants to raise you up. And more than anything else, He affirms that your value is not derived from what you do, but from who you are- a child of God.” (From Rediscovering Jesus)
I ask you as you’re reading this blog to take this to heart. He calls you to a radical love of Him and the ones He loves. I tell you, it will change you, your life, and the world. If change seems scary, I invite you to join with me in it anyway. It’s so important and with God, all things are possible. It is a lifelong battle and journey. Yes, you will have to be fighting for love until you take your last breath. But, He makes a way, and He will teach us. I invite you to come and be a radical lover.