“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers” (1 John 3:16, NIV 1984).
As I was headed for my clinic yesterday, I realized there were two ways to get on an elevator. My clinic is on the fourth floor. When I stepped into the elevator alone, I found myself moving to one side. In a hurry, subconsciously, I shifted to where I could not see others who might be moving toward my elevator, those who might wish to jump on board as the door was closing, and thus delay my getting to clinic. If I actually saw them coming, my conscience would make me hold the elevator open for them. But, if I were in such a position that their movement toward the elevator was not visible, I could, in good conscience, allow the doors to close even though they might be rushing to enter.
Love by many is defined as a deep emotional feeling of attachment toward another. Love, as evidenced by God’s work in the Bible, is more than that. To love like God is to desire and actively seek the best for another, whether or not it benefits oneself. The first love is good; the second is better.
There are two ways to live out this better love in the world. One way is to act in love toward all who cross our path in life, those who are obvious, apparent enough that we are aware of their presence as we go about our daily living. The other way is to deliberately seek those who need love; finding the ones who might not be noticed if we were not intently seeking—the ones we might avoid if we shifted our location in the elevator.
My temptation is to live out love in the first manner. God knows I’m too busy to seek additional relationships that might require my time and attention. He brings me enough to love as I walk through life just doing my job and family. This manner of love is a huge responsibility and we all should do it well; it is an excellent love. But I have known some who live an even better love: some who shift in the elevator to seek those who might need entrance. I know doctors who greet every hospital worker with kindness, volunteer to serve in healthcare centers for the poor, stop to pick up the hitchhiker, speak to the woman at the well, turn to see that Lazarus is begging outside their door, look up to find Zacchaeus.
I’m not naturally that kind of person. I don’t naturally seek to love those who don’t fall into my path. I don’t have time. I don’t have the emotional energy. But this better love that seeks and acts is what I would wish for my life. And, though impossible for me, it is not impossible for the Christ who lives within me, who will love through me as I surrender to His will.
Help me to seek those who need your love and let your love shine through.