Sometimes we pray a prayer, and the result we receive is the heart of God. On my first missions trip back in 2007, I prayed one of those prayers. The kind that produces a process of change in your thoughts, actions, and life, blindly. We were on a long bus ride of dirt roads cratered with pot holes, from intense city streets to rice farms and impoverished villages. As I gazed out the window I began to focus on the people I saw instead of the landscape. Men, women, boys, girls and tiny babies… it was like they were each highlighted to me in slow motion. Each face. Each person… My heart was melting with Gods love for them. Right where they were… no shoes, dusty faces from walking miles, barely enough rags to make clothing enough to cover themselves. God was madly in love with them.
I had been saying to God in that season of my life, ‘Reduce me to love.’ If God is love, then all I want is all of Him. I expected to have new eyes for people I knew or people I at least came in contact with. What I did not expect was to ache with love in my heart so deep… for people I was passing and would never talk to, on a bus, in the middle of Cambodia.
James 2 1-4 My dear friends, don’t let public opinion influence how you live out our glorious, Christ-originated faith. If a man enters your church wearing an expensive suit, and a street person wearing rags comes in right after him, and you say to the man in the suit, “Sit here, sir; this is the best seat in the house!” and either ignore the street person or say, “Better sit here in the back row,” haven’t you segregated God’s children and proved that you are judges who can’t be trusted?
5-6 Listen, dear friends. Isn’t it clear by now that God operates quite differently? He chose the world’s down-and-out as the kingdom’s first citizens, with full rights and privileges. This kingdom is promised to anyone who loves God.
Here’s what I’m saying: God doesn’t have a motive by loving people. He just loves them. That day in Cambodia wrecked me with the unfathomable love that God has for ALL of us. We can easily get caught up in treating others with more care based on what they look like or their reputation and so forth. That’s not love. There is division, prejudice and judgement rampant in the world. You know what breaks that? Love. Without motive. Once my motive is to get you to agree with me, we move out of love. Once I treat you better because I think you can do something for me, I move out of love. Once I seek to prove my point instead of understand yours, I move out of love.
James 2 has so much gold, but I couldn’t get passed this first part. Fam… it’s all about the love of an extravagant Father who sent Jesus to die in our place, and His blood was shed equally for all. How beautiful is that? James 8 recalls the scripture, ‘Love others as you love yourself.’ I will say this, of you don’t love yourself, people become your mission, become your prize and your purpose. Ask God to reveal His love for you, first. Loved people, love people. Let’s go love our neighbors, then the world.
Featured image by Allison Mims