Impossible, Amazing Love

I heard someone say today that Jesus never commanded us to love everyone. This intrigued me. Isn’t the very essence of God himself love? Aren’t we to be conduits of that love to the world? Haven’t we received the high calling to love indiscriminately? Yes, but that is not the same as a commandment to love everyone. Our command, our invitation is more specific. We are called to “love one another” to “love our neighbor” and to “love the brethren.”

Jesus told Nicodemus that “God loved the world” and he lived out that love over and over again with individual encounters with others, his neighbors, and the brethren. He had compassion on the crowds, He taught the multitudes. Then he reached out and touched, healed, raised individuals to new life.

In Mark 8, a crowd brought a blind man to Jesus, asking if Jesus would heal him. What Jesus did next is compelling. “Jesus took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village.”  Can you imagine how it felt to be led gently by the hand by Jesus? This tender moment gives me pause. Why didn’t Jesus just heal this blind man in the middle of the crowd? Perhaps because Jesus wisely knew exactly what the man needed. And instead of a public healing, he offered a gentle, guiding hand, away from the crowd, to a quiet personal encounter, and healing.

I see so many times in Scripture where Jesus does something unexpected, reaching out in personal and persistent love. The woman with the issue of blood, publicly called out after she made a bid for secret healing. Why? Because Jesus knew her deepest need. He could not let her sneak away in secret, with an opportunity to connect face to face. And again, Jesus’ response to her was, “Daughter.” He called her daughter, welcoming her into his family, into relationship.

And what about Zacchaeus? The short guy who just wanted to get a glimpse of Jesus. He wasn’t hoping for much. He just wanted to see Jesus. But that wasn’t all Jesus wanted. He couldn’t pass by; instead he stopped, called Zacchaeus out of the tree, and invited himself to dinner!

Jesus expressed love in his compassionate interactions with individuals who crossed his path. And that is exactly what we are called to. Not a sweeping gesture. Not a general goodwill toward all. Not even an altruistic duty toward humanity. Instead we are called to the simple—but often very difficult—path of showing love to one another, our neighbor, and the brethren. All those people who cross our paths, with their needs, demands, and plain-old humanity. Seems a tad more tedious than loving everyone. And maybe even a bit impossible. But Jesus doesn’t just show us how to love; he pours that love into us and through us. So we get to live in that love and pass it on to others. So impossible! So amazing!

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