In the wake of terror attacks I was warmed by the short video of a young Muslim man in Manchester (Baktash Noori), blindfolded, inviting passers-by to ‘hug him’. Written on a piece of cardboard, “I’m Muslim and I trust you. Do you trust me enough for a hug?” Noori says if was nerve-wracking at first but that he was overwhelmed by the wealth of goodwill that responded with people’s wholehearted embraces and positive comments. It’s such unconditional love that will change our world for the better.
Preacher David Wilkerson, threatened by Nicky Cruz on the gangland streets of New York, with “You come near me and I’ll kill you!” Wilkerson replied, “You could cut me up into a thousand pieces and lay them in the street, and every piece will still love you.” Such courageous love eventually led to Cruz downing his addictions, weapons, crime and violence and turning his life over to the transforming Love of Christ.
This triune ‘agape’ love, from which God created our world is outlined and coloured in at 1 Corinthians 13, and defines mature Christian living. Sadly, such sacrificial love isn’t always obvious in our Christian churches. Some of the qualities looked for in a popular church are: good preaching & teaching, worship & singing, learning & training, outward-looking, with opportunities for service, etc. All of these are important for growing up as esteemed sons and daughters of God, but without unconditional, come-what-may, love at work church will always be a ‘let-down’, ‘a resounding gong or clanging cymbal’ (St Paul), empty of lasting substance.
Here’s the bench mark for human maturity demonstrated by Jesus Christ, the kind of loving He shows, shares and inspires us to channel. What a different world it will be when such self-sacrificing loving kindness is given sway.
“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7 / NLT)
This is God’s Forever Love!