To those that have found hope and love in the world,
“Sometimes every one us feels like we will never be healed. Sometimes every one of us aches like we will never be saved.”
I went running outside, and I stopped at the street corner for the walk signal, and I just watched the cars go by. I watched the people stare out their windows. I saw people. I didn’t know what was going on in their lives, in their minds, or hearts, but I saw them. Have you stopped and just saw people?
There are billions of people in the world. There are men, women, people of different ethnicities, and different beliefs. Everyone was made different in the world, and with a different purpose. Everyone wants to feel hopeful and loved every day they rise from their bed.
In today’s world, there are people who don’t know the love of Christ. There are people who are homeless, orphans, foster children, and children who grow up with no father or mother. There are people who are sick, people without food and water. There are people who are hurting in this broken world. These people grow up with something missing. They live life as if there is no purpose because they are searching for someone or something they don’t have. People are lost.
I believe these people are lost until they feel someone love them. Whether its God, a single mom or dad, a brother or sister, a best friend, an adopted parent, a pastor, a missionary, or employer, people find love through people. People find love through relationships. Hopeless people need hopeful people.
Why is love necessary in the lives of people, and what can we do to love people?
There is no better extremist for love than Jesus. Jesus told his followers, “Love your enemies, bless them that they curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you.”
Martin Luther King Jr. was also an extremist for love, and he wanted African-Americans to feel loved by Caucasians, and to stop being treated as their slaves. King put it simply when he said in his letter, Letter from a Birmingham Jail. “Oppressed people can’t remain oppressed forever. The yearning for freedom eventually manifests itself and that is what happened to the American Negro.”
My heart breaks when King writes of a how a young boy and girl can’t live out their childhood. “…When you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six-year-old daughter why she can’t go to the public amusement park that just been advertised on television and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored people, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five-year-old son who is asking, daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?; when you take a cross-country drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you..”
I can’t even begin to fathom how hard it must have been for African-Americans to live. I cannot begin to fathom a child in Africa with HIV/AIDS. There is even poverty in our own backyard, America. I think the world would be a better place if we were all extremists for love like Jesus and Martin Luther King Jr.
An extremist is one who advocates or resorts to measures beyond the norm. I believe that in the city of Sioux Falls, the Ransom Church is an extremist for love. The last sermon series we heard was called, “Who is Counting on You?” It was a series about evangelism and how we need to realize someone in the world is counting on us. Every year, the Ransom sends church members and staff to Africa and Mexico. They also have diaper drives, clothing drives, and turkey giveaways right here in Sioux Falls. A church that fully embraces the love of Christ is one that not only embraces the world, but its own community and its needs.
A few Sunday’s ago at the Ransom, Micah Kephart from Poetice International spoke about missions. Kephart gave the picture of a man named Richmond who had the aroma of Jesus. Everywhere he went you could smell Jesus. There are over a million aids orphans in Zambia alone, and when Richmond’s eyes were opened to their challenges they faced, he decided to waste his life on them. He decided to give up his own security to pursue justice, and to pour himself out. He chose to bring hope. He chooses to offer love.
Richmond met a man named Maxwell, who was being used as a servant, and asks him what his dream was. Maxwell wanted to be a professional musician. Richmond gave him a recorder. Then, Maxwell wanted a guitar, a piano, and eventually wanted to help others in his situation. He wanted to start a music academy. Richmond and Maxwell did. Today, there is a new music academy with over 300 students enrolled all because Richmond asked Maxwell to waste his life on a dream that turned into a reality. One simple act of kindness, and love could change a person’s life forever. It did Maxwell’s. That’s incredible, and that’s love. That’s how you should love.
ESPN sports writer, Rick Reilly, tells a story of how a senior high school football player loved a sophomore girl in high school with a disability. Chy Johnson’s brain works at a third grade level because of a birth defect. People call this girl stupid and push her in the halls. She would come home crying, and her mom told school administrators, and they did nothing. Instead, the starting quarterback of the school’s undefeated football team took a stand. He decided to waste his life. The boys name was Carson Jones. Jones had once escorted Chy to the Special Olympics and this year he invited her to sit at the lunch table with him. He didn’t rat out any people and didn’t because he said, “I just thought if they saw her with us every day, maybe they’d start treating her better.” The starting running back Tucker Workman even made sure someone was walking with her between classes. Chy now tells her mom she is happy because she is eating lunch with her boys. For their first playoff game, Chy is likely to be in the middle of the team’s huddle.
My heart got warm after reading this story, and made me immediately think that is a real life example of love.
How can we look around and find people to love? Ask someone what his or her dream is, like Richmond did, or invite someone to eat lunch with you, like Carson did. Ransom Church pastor Phill Tague puts it simply by saying that just because you don’t know what to do, it doesn’t give you the right to do nothing.
I think loving people starts with Matthew 5. Matthew 5 gives two images. The images are salt and light. How can we be salt and light? It matters where you go, what you say, what you watch, where you go on the Internet, what you listen to, and whom you spend your time with. Tague gave these points in a sermon he gave at the Ransom last Sunday. He said it is about finding how to live in the world, but not becoming of the world. You can do that by being salt; which means to add flavor. It’s adding something to someone else’s life that you have and they don’t.
Salt does three things. First, it unleashes potential; it enhances the flavor of the people that are around us. I think the best thing people can see in us in the joy they see in us as we live every day. Second, salt preserves light; it causes us to slow down the erosion of the culture that is being caused by sin. Third, salt creates a thirst; is there something in your life that makes people say, “I want that?” On a daily basis, be in contact with people and put truth and love together.
Being salt also includes shining for him above. If you have Jesus, you don’t live in darkness anymore. When Jesus left, Jesus said that we are the light of the world. Light does three things. First, it dispels darkness; it takes away the darkness. Shine in dark places. Don’t shine just at church, but at school, work, in your dorm, in the cafeteria, at sporting events, etc. People take notice when they see someone act different. Second, light guides; do you live in a way that you have to be an idiot to miss it? Third, light reveals; a Christian’s life reveal something someone else needs. I absolutely love this way Tague explains how to shine you light: radiate brilliancy. Let people know that there is a God that loves them through the way you shine your light.
I don’t know what God is doing in me, but I can’t stop thinking about people lately. I think that is a good thing. I wrote this because it is what is on my heart. I think it started from starting my radio show called the Love Boat. I just get this feeling that everything I say may impact another’s life, and the more I think about it, everything about that statement is true. When I think about loving people, I think of it like noticing people.
This summer, I got noticed by an internship I did. I think of people in my life like a girl that used to be my aunt’s foster child and now has a baby, and was diagnosed with cancer. On top of that, the father left her too. She needs love, and prayers.
Another example is how on the radio, a friend decided to say if we got 40 callers, I would say my crush. I didn’t the first week, and the next week, I felt like maybe if I said something that it would make her feel loved or noticed.
No matter what, everyone needs love. Even Christians need love. You can find someone to love on the campus of USF, at the Ransom Church, in Sioux Falls, in rural South Dakota, in big cities across America, and in countries like Zambia in Africa. All it takes is one conversation, and one act of kindness to change someone’s life forever. I urge you to love, and to give hope to this broken world that needs healing. Everyday you wake up, ask yourself, what difference are you making where you are because love does make the world a beautiful place.
Take your faith outside the walls, and wherever you go, let love follow you.