Saturday, October 1, 2016

Loving Well

On a recent trip to New York, I found myself swept up with a crowd of tourists just off Wall Street. Amidst the sea of tourists and foreigners (myself, being one of them – both a tourist and a foreigner), I looked for a local to help me locate the correct subway train to take me to midtown. I was distracted by a soapbox preacher. He wasn’t literally on a soapbox, it was a little step ladder and he was loudly condemning passersby for their sin which God was compelled, by His nature, to judge us for. Mildly amused and cringing internally, I stood listening for a few minutes and watching the effect on the crowd. No one was paying much attention to him – he was just one of the many “spectacles” on display.

Looking around, focussed again on my task to find a local to assist me, I noticed a fellow wearing a
suit and tie and thinking he might be a professional who worked on Wall Street, I asked him if he could direct me to the correct subway station. I found out he wasn’t local and although he couldn’t help me with directions, he wanted to give me something. I looked down at what he offered and saw it was a Christian tract. Great. (insert eye roll) I’d found the “partner” to the soapbox preacher.

I decided I was going to have some fun so I looked down at it and asked, “Is this going to tell me Jesus loves me?”

He replied, “It’s not that simple.”

Say WHA-?

Hold up. Now I was curious. How could it be more complicated, than Jesus loves me? I needed to find out, so I asked him. He said sin is in our DNA, holiness is in God’s DNA and holiness must deal with sin (meaning, judge) because holiness has nothing to do with sin. Hmmm. That’s not exactly what he said, but something similar.

Jesus began and ended with love. He loves, we love, end of story. It’s simple, it’s not complicated and in the process of the story, we are changed because we’ve encountered love.

I’m in pursuit of love – not working for it because there’s no way I could earn it, but to understand the depth and the breadth of Christ’s love for me, for all humanity, and for His creation.

I encountered love in New York – not from the preacher man, but from my friend, Kate whom I was visiting there. She and I are almost complete opposites, and yet our friendship works really well. I’m extremely blessed to have a lot of love in my life, but Kate loves me particularly well. It made me stop and ask myself, “How well do I love others?”

What Kate does so well is adjust her expression of love to suit the one she loves. For example, we travelled around NYC on bicycle. I’m not an avid cyclist but when I do, I cycle  through parks, moving at a snail’s pace because the goal is the journey, not the destination. I never cycle in the streets of Vancouver because in my mind, it’s extremely dangerous (even though it is a very bicycle-friendly city). But here we are in NYC, and she cycles everywhere – that is when she isn’t running to train because she’s a super-marathon runner. I rarely cycle, but I never, (not ever) run. – So anyway, when in Rome...

For the first day, Kate leads and I follow because I have zero sense of direction and I have no idea where we are going. It’s nerve-racking – not only am I cycling in NYC (without a helmet – because apparently they are trying to use natural selection for population control so there isn’t a helmet law), but I feel wildly out of control because I don’t know when the next turn into oncoming traffic is going to happen. Kate acknowledges my heart is out of control and for the remainder of the weekend, she explains where we are going and how we will get there. It was a seemingly small and insignificant gesture, but it was the single-biggest action which demonstrated her love for me. She noticed, and she adjusted herself to meet my needs, and loved me in the place where it was needed. In the process of her loving me, I was changed. I became more confident and less fearful. I was changed because I was loved.

In many ways, Kate is like Jesus personified. While I had several goals to accomplish on my weekend trip to NYC (sightseeing, eating, connecting with Kate), she had just one goal: connection. Jesus has one goal too, and it’s to share connection and intimacy with you, with me, with us. Love comes first, then we change. It’s never the other way around. “For God so loved the world, that He gave...”

How well do I love others? Is it like Jesus? Like my friend, Kate? Or do people first know what I don’t love about them, like the preacher man? I desire to love well, like Jesus, to love others into being their best self; to love them into their identity.

How well do you love others?

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