The world is a scary place this side of eternity. I’d be lying if I said I’ve never cried fearful tears of concern for the world my children will be living in when they are grown. Or fretting about what kind of world my grand-children and great grand-children will experience. It seems as though it is dark and full of hate. It spills like black ink: quickly, silently, but destined to stain and ruin, into the thoughts, words, and actions of others. Whether it’s a crime being committed, a terrorist attack, or a rude gesture on the high way, the things and people we experience in this world can make it seem so bleak. It can seem so empty and full of despair, that anything we do to counter act this world seems pointless.
The truth, sweet friend, is that the world needs you. The world needs your light of Jesus to shine in and through you. To shine brightly and brilliantly. To glisten and sparkle. To be noticeably different.
I have learned in my life’s short time on Earth, the onething that will soften any hardened soul, is to look someone in the eye and listen to their story. Not to correct them or judge them or even to give advice or counsel. But to just listen, with the only motive being to understand their experience. I can recall several scenarios where I have done just that with someone who, on paper, seemed as though they were the complete opposite from me. I can clearly remember the conversations and the exact moment that we connected on a human level, despite our differences. I can also think of several instances where I have done the complete opposite and remember the exact moment the walls went up between us. Some of those walls were never able to be de-constructed.
The truth that the world needs to hear, especially right now, is that every single person on this planet; past, present, and future, is created in the image of God Himself. Genesis 1:26 says this:
26Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
The very first things God wants us to know when we read the Bible is that:
1) He created everything (Including you and me);
2) We (humans) were created in His image; and
3) We have authority.
This is a very important message because it involves the way we view and interact with God Himself, and the way we view and interact with others. We have also been given authority over His creation, which means we are in charge of taking care and cultivating it.
The same God who created you and I in His image, has told us that we are to do two things:
1) Love Him with everything we’ve got; and
2) Love others as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:37; Mark 12:30-31; Luke 10:27)
Again, this involves how we view and interact with God Himself, and the way we view and interact with others. Am I showing that type of love to my fellow human beings?
My faith is continually solidified when science proves the ultimate wisdom of God in correct, which happens time and time again. The psychological definition of brotherly love can be defined as the following:
“Feelings of humanity and compassion toward fellow humans.”
Another way of saying this is, “treating each other as we would like to be treated.” Many of us know that the “Golden Rule” and God’s commandment to “Love our neighbor,” are one in the same. I want to be treated well, so I’ll treat you well. I can be kind and respectful. That doesn’t seem too difficult. Most days.
But the definition of compassion hit me in my stomach.
Compassion means to suffer together.
While I was meditating on that, the gentle and loving Spirit of God whispered to me, “Megan, are you suffering with the world? Are you suffering with the innumerable injustices that flash on your TV screen or Facebook feed? Are you showing love to your fellow humans by acknowledging they are My creation?”
Then, the kick in the throat question: “Are you showing the love and light of Jesus by serving, and suffering with humanity; or are you debating, arguing, and “proving” a point for Jesus?”
These questions really caused me to think about how I am living my life:
Am I showing brotherly love?
Do I acknowledge that the person who is so different from me in so many ways is also made in God’s image?
Do I acknowledge that God loves that person just as He loves me?
Are these questions as challenging to you as they are to me?
Jesus does not need me to defend Him.
Jesus does not need me to debate His truths.
In fact, Jesus does not need me at all in any part of His plan.
Yet, despite all that, He invites me to participate.
By participating, I am learning what it means to interact with all those I encounter in life in a real, brotherly love, deep connection kind of way. Jesus has always been about the relationship; with Himself, and with others. Hence the “These are the first things I want you to know when you read the Bible,” and the “here’s your instructions,” that were mentioned above.
If I am building a relationship and connecting with people on a human level, it gives me an opportunity to show them the love and light of Jesus. In the beautiful, poetic words of St. Francis of Assisi:
“Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words.”
I am praying and challenging myself to be intentional in my relationships. To connect, to serve, to listen, to be present. I think the best thing we can do is connect with those around us. However, I don’t have to be a theologian, a pastor, or working in full-time ministry to connect with a person. I interact with many people on a weekly basis that I am given an opportunity to connect with, if even just for a moment. My husband, my children, the checker at the grocery store, people next to me at a stop light, the person sitting next to us at church, the person asking for change while I pump my gas, the friend going through a difficult time, co-workers, clients, people I pass while taking my morning walk, my neighbors checking their mailbox next to mine, are just a few. The list can continue on and on. It is my prayer that all of us will make brotherly love a practice that we preach, more with our actions than with our words. What kind of difference would we make if we truly lived our lives like this? If we LIVED as though we ARE the Church, rather than church being a place we attend?
So, my sweet friend, in this dark world, shine brightly. The world needs us more now than ever.