Thursday, December 9, 2010

Radical Love


I've been doing some serious soul-searching lately. I guess it's not really "soul-searching" per se, but more like...I've slowly been coming to some realizations about some different things. I've begun to see Christ and His sacrifice in a whole new way, a way that I'd never been able to see it in before. And because of that, it changes my whole outlook on life. It's as if...

Knowing what Christ did for me and the rest of humanity makes it difficult to keep doing some things. I can't just dismiss death anymore, not without asking myself the question- "Now did they know Christ? Was there something I could have done about that?" (There's still no sugar-coating it with me- if somebody died, I think it's better to just say 'they died' and be done with it, but that's just me. v.v)

I've discovered a new, deeper love for humanity. I used to think it would be a sacrifice to give up some things. But now I find myself asking the question- would I give this up for Christ? Could I give this up for Christ, if it meant doing something for Him? Many times, the answer is yes. In fact, I think I might even be able to brave snakes for Him., we're still working on that one. We'll get it eventually. :D

One thing it most definitely has impressed upon me is the plight of souls all over the globe. You know, it's so easy to go through life not caring. I used to do it. Salvation was cool, but it didn't matter that much. You know, people had plenty of time, somebody else would tell them, all that jazz.

But lately, I've come to realize that it is important. Jesus Christ, the God of the universe, gave His life for every single person who I ever talk to. He died for every person I drive by, for every checker at Walmart, for every kid at my Good News Club. He died for the world. He gave His life- a perfect, sinless, beautiful life that had blessed so many before, and has blessed so many since.

With that in mind, with that call in my heart, how can I keep silent? How can I avoid the stark realities staring me in the face- that everyday, thousands of people pass into eternity without knowing that someone loved them enough to give his life? Without knowing that there is hope, that there is someone who can lift the pall of sin and shame, and show them a more deep and wonderful joy than they have ever known? Someone who died so that they don't have to go to a sinner's hell?

All of this really comes to the forefront when I see the hate some Christians display towards those who aren't saved, or who don't even claim to be Christian. I've seen some Christians- many Christians, many more than I think we realize- who react with such vehemence to things that it's almost appalling. They forget that the love of Christ was what constrained Him to die...and that He didn't just die for the rich, righteous people. George MacLeod once said:

"I simply argue that the cross should be raised at the center of the marketplace as well as on the steeple of the church. I am recovering the claim that Jesus was not crucified in a cathedral between two candles, but on a cross between two thieves; on the town's garbage heap; at a crossroad, so cosmopolitan they had to write His title in Hebrew and Latin and the kind of place where cynics talk smut, and thieves curse, and soldiers gamble. Because that is where He died. And that is what He died for. And that is what He died about. That is where churchmen ought to be and what churchmen ought to be about."

Our Savior died, not for the righteous, but for those who were hurting. He died for those who had no hope. He died so that people who didn't know what life they were missing out on could be made free from the sin and hopeless despair that filled them. He died so that the rapist could see true love. He died so that the murderer could be forgiven and experience joy. He died so that the terrorist could find a love as radical as his hate.

He died in the most terrible way so that those people could have forgiveness and freedom. That is why He died.

Another thing that bugs me, along that tack- Christians who think that, in some indefinable way, they're superior. I think I dealt with this before in another blog post, but I'll reiterate anyway.

We are no better than the aforementioned murderer or rapist or terrorist. We have lied, we have stolen, we have quite probably committed adultery in our hearts, and "he that offendeth in one point is guilty of all." What do we have to crow about? Why do we think we are superior? We're not any higher or more righteous than they are!

In fact, we are supposed to think of ourselves as lower than all those people, just like Jesus did. Jesus acted like a servant. He came not to be ministered unto, but to minister and give his life a ransom (Matthew 20:28). We are supposed to do the same (see verse 27). We are supposed to esteem all men higher than ourselves (Philippians 2:3). That is what we are called to do, not act superior and look down upon the least of these in our high and mighty approach to ourselves.

We are supposed to humbly carry the love of Christ to them, to take care of them. We are supposed to give up our coat and our daily bread for them. We are supposed to teach them of a higher love, a greater love than even ours, a love that carried God Himself to the cross.

That is what the Christian life is supposed to be. It is supposed to be a sacrificial giving of oneself.
I'm sad to say that my life very often isn't one bit like that. I like my American middle-class comfort too well. I see homeless people all the time and I look the other way. I know families that could use help and I use the age-old "somebody else will take care of it" excuse. I don't practice a radical love, a love that would give everything, not barring life, for people, for Christ.

Truth be told, I don't even know if such a love is possible for humans to have. But I don't think that means we're not supposed to try, with Christ's help, to taste a bit of it. To be willing to act like servants to the least among us. To, as Charles Spurgeon said, make people leap to hell over our bodies.

"If sinners will be damned, at least let them leap to hell over our bodies. And if they will perish, let them perish with our arms about their knees, imploring them to stay. If hell must be filled, at least let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go there unwarned and un-prayed for."
Charles Spurgeon