Paul, instructing Romans the basics of Christian love in Romans 12
If being a Christian in the world means that I represent the love of God for this world, I fear that I am a poor and wretched example.
I’m reading Romans 12, and Paul is trying to teach the Romans what it means to love other people in a Christian way. And by Christian way, we mean one which resembles the way Christ loves. And by the way Christ loves, we mean the way the Triune God-head, in his majestically large heart, graciously and prodigally loves the world around us.
Listen to what he says…
“Let your love be genuine”
“Love one another with brotherly affection…”
“Outdo one another in showing honor…”
“Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality…”
“Bless those who persecute you. Bless and do not curse…”
“Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly…”
Man, I wish I was a better lover. I really wish I was a better love in Jesus’ name to the world around me.
I wish my heart wasn’t so riddled with selfishness. I wish I didn’t judge people. I wish that my heart would be more accommodating.
How I want my love to accommodate more people; more specifically, people different than I.
For me to love people who have different ethnic origins than I do, who exhibit different cultural values, man I wish my love accommodated people who didn’t act like me.
I wish my love extended far beyond the people within my small theological circle…that I wouldn’t just love and favor Charismatics, Pentecostals, but it would reach to Cessationalists, reformed, Catholics, Anglicans, etc. I wish I never set up those walls in my heart of superiority or inferiority. I wish my heart had enough love to express itself through humility to people of a different denomination.
I wish my love could reach the lowly… I wish that my heart wouldn’t be limited to fellow American middle-classers. I wish that when I go to the slums of India, to the projects of Chicago, to the villages of Africa, to these places which operate significantly different than me economically, that my heart would accommodate them. That I wouldn’t think them any less. That I wouldn’t be anti-bacterial towards them. That I wouldn’t think my life more significant.
I wish my love extended to my enemies… I wish I didn’t have a jerk reaction to angry drivers, to players with bad sportsmanships, to racist people and institutions–I wish my love would grow its pathetic self and cover those who I dislike or those who dislike me, so that my only thought towards them is selfless sacrificial love.
I wish my love persevered for those closest to me…that I wouldn’t forget my father or mother, or my sisters, or take my loved ones for granted. That I could go beyond my annoyance of them, that I would go beyond my selfish perspective of them, that I would go beyond bearing them for seasons, but extend to graciously loving them for decades.
God, my love is so small. Why do you send us to represent you when the portion we offer the world is paltry? The world is starving for love, for true, genuine, selfless, holy, Christ-like love, and we are bankrupt ourselves of such a miraculous love. God help me. God, expand my love.
God, expand my love to be somewhere closer to you.
You never met a person you couldn’t love. You loved those nailing you to the cross–what’s my deal? I wish I could be like you Jesus. I wish I could love like you. I wish I could love like you to the point where I could give my life to the world for the glory of God to be displayed.
I wish selfishness would bleed out of me, and that only the selfless gracious heart of Jesus would be inside of me. God, cure me of the pathetic love I offer others.
Oh God, yes Lord, expand my love…