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Johnny and I experienced wild, crazy love early in our married lives.  We had two kids, a horse and barely scraped together the money to buy a house.  The horse couldn’t sleep in the house, we needed a barn. A man whom we had recently met, David Clark, told us that he had lumber that he would donate for our barn. Years previous to meeting David, an old army barracks had been torn down by David and his wife.  We never had the privilege of meeting her because she had passed away. 

 

David made 181 long trips with a large trailer to bring the lumber to his farm. He then donated it to ministries as the Lord led him.  David told us that he wanted to donate the lumber for our barn that represented thousands of dollars and countless hours, dollars we could not afford. David knew God had a purpose for the lumber.  That purpose was to bless others, ourselves included. Isn’t that crazy?  Isn’t that love?  What a privilege to have experienced God’s love for us through this godly Christ-follower, David Clark.

 

“The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was: “If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?” But the good Samaritan reversed the question: “If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?”-Martin Luther King Jr.

 

Love our neighbor as ourselves.

We hear this so often that we are tempted to just gloss over it.  Yet, this is so profound that if we take it to heart it will change everything. Take a quick look at the world around us and we will see that society is coming apart. Loving our neighbor as ourselves is what can glue it back together. Consider the simple starting place, our neighbors. Wait. Yes, I’m talking about neighbors, those who live next door, behind us, across from us. If you would be accused of loving your neighbors, would there be enough evidence to convict you? Right here, for many of us, is something that needs to change.  We need to be deliberate in this: Loving our neighbors. Thinking about the needs of others should have a first place position in our lives.  No one gets a ‘pass’ on this.

 

Now think about your neighbor at work or where you sit at the ball game, or anywhere you regularly go. Enough evidence to convict us of loving them?  Maybe we have good intentions, but this is the REAL world. We have to deal with work, the kids, overcommitments on all sides, plus the things we like to do, the news, social media, etc. etc.  We’d love our neighbors if we had time, of course. We don’t get to know them, what they dream of and what stands in their way. Because we don't know them, they are often invisible.

 

In contrast, the poor chap by the side of the road that the good Samaritan helped obviously had problems.  When we don’t know people, we don’t see how to love them.  We have to overcome a culture that is set against arranging our lives to authentically connect to others.  It’s hard enough to connect to believers. Connecting to our neighbors and people around us?

 

Some people object to loving their neighbors. Maybe our neighbors aren’t Christians, maybe they are not even good people, maybe they are outright sinners. Good point. That is where Jesus showed us the way. He hung around with the bad guys, the rowdy, the swindlers, the dishonest and the immoral. And, they loved him. He said, right out loud so that people could hear - the immoral would get into heaven before the religious folks. Then He lived among these unsavory people so they could hear, be loved and connect to Him.

 

“The measure of a Christian is not in the height of his grasp but in the depth of his love”

Clarence Jordan

 

Love is the very essence of God’s nature.  It is the very essence of Jesus’ life. He left the comfort and majesty of heaven and lived and loved among us.  His love was deliberate and spontaneous.  He washed the feet of his friends.  His love is infectious.  As we experience His love, it changes us to love like He does.  We do love, but, not always.  How many times is love attempted by us in an insincere way?  I’ll love you with strings, if you respond, if you measure up, if, if, if.  Yet, acts of pure religion as James calls them like serving the poor and orphans often don’t carry a benefit to the server.  That’s real God-love, no strings attached. It’s not easy. The truth is, loving each other is messy business.

 

Jesus’ love for us and His love through us is what moves humanity toward God. 

 

I really get that our lives in the Kingdom cannot be lived by our own natural power, that’s failure. They must be lived by His supernatural power.  Since I am a natural introvert, just reaching out to others is sometimes a sacrifice for me. I would often not reach out if left to my own natural tendencies. Something, some power has to change my inclination. Often, when I reach out freely, It is the power of God working in my life.  It’s crazy love.

 

When we organize efforts to love others, we call these efforts ‘ministries’.   Let’s face it, if we would see all needs across our communites being met, we are talking about an explosion of ministries.  It will take time, commitment.  It will take effort.  Loving our neighbor is life and it takes our life. 

 

Fellow Christians, we have to realize that if loving our neighbors happens, it won’t be natural.  If it happens, it will be supernatural!  The recipe for this is not too difficult.  Take life, add God, get supernatural life as God ignites or passions and re-organizes our priorities. 

 

This is what God has placed in most human hearts, the need to be loved, to be accepted no matter what we have done and to have someone willing to connect to us so we don’t face our struggles alone. This is how Jesus lived. What keeps us so busy that we don’t do the basics? What are we so afraid of? There should be no fear in loving others. (ref I John 4:18)

 

Loving others might be taking on shades of meaning that are downright ‘not us’.  Forming our lives around the mission of loving others might just not be where we have been. It’s time for change.

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