This one statement is so simple that we should not need to say it. But the reality is that we miss this point in the churches, families and workplaces more than any of us would like to admit. There are a few reasons why we miss this:
- We don't commonly connect daily personal choices that we make to love or not to love with world history. But my choices today about how I will love those around me have a direct impact upon history. If I choose to act in hateful ways, that impacts others. If I choose to love in self-sacrificial ways, even when they go unnoticed, history shifts a bit toward God's Kingdom.
- Most of us think about following God in individualistic terms. We measure our followership of Jesus according to things like spending private time with God, moral choices and volunteering for "Christian" things. These things are important, but Jesus told the disciples that they way they loved one another was the way that the world would know that they were followers of God. Read John 13. It's in there.
- Let's be real. The church in North America is not known for it's self-sacrificial love at this point in history. We are more known for what we will kill for instead of what we will die for. Think about it: outsiders describe us as judgmental and violent. This impacts us in very mundane ways. A visitor came to our church on Sunday and was shocked at how we actually entered into conversation with him. He said that had not been his experience at other churches he had visited. If we can't even engage people who walk through our front doors, then how can we offer God's love to others who have no interest in coming to our church services?
- Sadly, I find that most of the church talk is not really that interested in changing the world. There is so little talk about how God is working in our neighborhoods, local restaurants, workplaces, coffee shops, etc. All the talk is about turning around the church, making the church work, getting people to come to church, etc. We are mired in the paradigm of trying to make the church a better provider of "spiritual goods and services." And the best provider wins.
So let's break the pattern today and change the world with "small acts of great love," as Mother Teresa once said.