“If I could speak all the languages of the earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.” 1 Corinthians 1-3.
These few sentences are some of my favorite in all of scripture. You may not recognize them, but if you have spent any amount of time in the Bible or spent a good amount of time around a church or even just been to a handful of weddings, you’ve probably heard they’re more popular younger brothers, 1 Corinthians 4-7. (Love is patient, love is kind… etc.) Don’t get me wrong – those verses are great, but to me verses 1-3 are just so meaningful on a whole other level. We could be amazingly blessed by the Lord in so many ways but without four little letters all that would mean nothing. How can that be? How can one feeling or in this case lack thereof, render so much good void? Well when you think about it, if it weren’t for love what would we be? The blunt answer here unfortunately would be doomed to hell. BUT! And it is a big but! Love! More specifically God’s love! His overwhelming, never ending, reckless love, which we could never earn and never deserve, was shared with us and saved us from such a terrible fate. Please do not downplay how truly reckless that love is, because trust me. it is!
Think about it this way. Let’s say you have a puppy; (or for those of you who are incorrect in your thoughts of what constitutes a good pet, a kitten. Or a fish for those of you with allergies. Or a one hundred dollar bill for you soulless pet haters… I apologize if I’ve gone too far on this tangent; I love all of you I promise! I’ll get back to the point.) Okay forget all that. I’ll simplify this; you have a piece of your favorite candy. One day, I come to you and I tell you that if you are willing to throw away that piece of candy a group of 10 people will then each get the opportunity to have a piece of that same candy, free of charge to them. All they have to do is accept it. But here’s the thing – you know the group of 10. You know that most of them don’t even like this kind of candy. You know a bunch of them are going to turn it down. You know that some of those who accept it don’t appreciate it the way you do. You know that there is a good chance that when some of the people hear that you gave up your piece of candy so they can have a piece, they will ridicule you for wasting your candy. And finally, you know a good portion of them wouldn’t have done the same so you could have a piece of their favorite candy. Yes, some of them will be grateful to you for your choice, but for the most part it’s a shaky deal at best for you. So why would you do it? Well it would have to come down to one thing. You loved and cared about those 10 people enough that you would want them to have the opportunity to share this wonderful thing that you have and that has given you such joy. Regardless of whether they choose to accept it you want them to have the chance to experience it. Now replace yourself in this scenario with God, the candy with Jesus, the 10 people with the 100 billion plus people that have ever lived and the countless people that will come after us, and the satisfaction that you get for that piece of candy with Heaven. God loved us so much that he gave His son to a group of people, some who would love Him for it (about 31% of the current world), some who would not, some who would never even hear His name nor the name of the son that He sent to die for them, some who would deny he even existed, and some who would even curse His name. And He knew ALL of this. I’m sorry but I that doesn’t constitute true love I don’t know what does. To make such a massive sacrifice for such little gain is mind blowing, but to quote a cliché of romance, love makes you do crazy things.
So what do we do now with this knowledge – the knowledge that we have been set free from the power of death thanks to God’s great love? It’s easy, pay it forward. Well it’s not “easy.” I think we all know loving people isn’t easy sometimes. But in Romans 12 it says this: “9 Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. 10 Love each other with genuine affection,[a] and take delight in honoring each other.” Then in verses 13-16 it continues on to say, “13 When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. 15 Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!”
Again it says, “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them.” I know how easy it is to pretend to love others. To ask someone how they’re doing today and just hoping that they say good to avoid having a more drawn out conversation that you’re not all that interested in having. But that’s not what we’re called to do. We have to REALLY LOVE. I know how hard it is to not only be willing but “ready to help” God’s people. But we have to REALLY LOVE. Learning to “bless those who persecute you” can be the hardest thing we ever have to do. But we have to REALLY LOVE. It’s often easy to “be happy with those who are happy” and often hard for some of us to be willing to “weep with those who weep.” But we must REALLY LOVE!
About a year ago I went to a one-day youth ministry conference, and during a break out seminar I remember being particularly impacted by one specific quote that the speaker used. It was something that I had heard in different words before but never truly absorbed. And it was this: “How we walk with the broken speaks more than how we sit with the great.” Truly friends, how we love those who are not easy to love, who cannot reciprocate our love and those who are by the world’s standards “not worthy” of love says everything about who we are in Christ. Why? Because when God sent His Son, were we easy to love? Could we reciprocate His love? Were we worthy? The answer to all these questions was and still is “no”, yet He did and still does. For those reasons, so will I; because if I didn’t… I would be nothing. .
Taylor Hernandez – known as “Biscuit” to the students has been working with Youth@Hope for 5 years and enjoys playing Ultimate Frisbee and going to the gym in his free time.