I’m not a fan of winter. Because I like warm weather and light breezes, I’m so thankful to live in the southwest where we escape the worst of it. But I still complain when the wind chill feels like Alaska to me. I’m may be a wimp in winter, but I can live with summer days in the 90’s.
But how I love a break in the midst of the cold or heat! Today our predicted high is up to 80℉—a taste of what’s to come this spring.
That’s a picture of what the church is supposed to bring to the world—a taste of the kingdom to come, the breath of the Spirit of God blowing through our lives into the lives of others. But it’s harder than it sounds because Jesus redefined a neighbor by the Good Samaritan–a man from a foreign nation hated by the Jews because of its mixed race and unbiblical religious practices (Luke 10:25-38).
Jesus was uncommon in his love. Because he reached out to everyone instead of drawing lines around the “righteous” and the “sinners,” the religious leaders of his day criticized him. After all, he hung out with and treated prostitutes and tax collectors with the same mercy and grace he offered everyone.
What does a taste of what’s to come look like? It looks like loving people of all faiths by seeing them as individuals and reaching out to them and by giving them the same religious freedoms we expect for ourselves. It’s doing unto others what we would ask for if we were refugees from war-torn areas in Africa or asylum-seekers coming across our southern border to escape very real danger. (FYI: Those who cross the border at entry points requesting asylum are not illegal.) It’s supporting and helping those who struggle physically, mentally, or spiritually. It’s volunteering and financially supporting various non-profits that help those around the world and here in the U.S. find freedom from slavery. It’s standing for justice for all when we see people of color targeted unfairly. It’s forgiving and reconciling with family, co-workers and neighbors. It’s giving out of our abundance when fire, floods, and storms cause destruction.
But how do we as ordinary Christians prepare our hearts to give out the uncommon love of Jesus and a taste of what’s to come?
- We recognize that we have done nothing to deserve our heritage, privilege, faith or economic/social status. They are all gifts of God. We understand that countless millions weren’t born into the rights and privileges we take for granted. And so we consider it a gift to be able to offer selfless and sacrificial love to all people, as Jesus did us.
- We find tangible ways to love the least of these, our enemies, our families and our friends through our actions, words, and finances.
- We do what is right and speak for what is right, even when it’s unpopular or uncomfortable.
- And as we go, we share the news of the Savior who has poured his love out to us and offers it to all.
I don’t love as Jesus did, but I pray that God will help me move in that direction as I listen and follow him, allowing the Spirit to move in me. I have a long way to go, and maybe you do, too. I need to be less concerned about myself and the consequences of doing and speaking what is right. I have to realize that I can’t fix all the problems of the world, but I can and must do something within my power to help.
Someday we will all stand before the King of Kings and Lord of Lords in a place where our worldly personal and national achievements have no value. But the love we’ve given others which provides a taste of the warmth of God’s love in a cold world will last forever.