By: Emily Lehner
Ed Welch states in his book When People are Big and God is Small, “Our problem is that we need people for ourselves more than we love them for the glory of God.”
At the end of Matthew chapter 13, Jesus returns to His hometown to teach the people in the synagogue there. The crowds are first astonished by His “wisdom and mighty works” (v. 54). The people are amazed by Jesus, but then we read in verse 57 that the crowds became offended. This passage allows us to see a true definition of love that is displayed by Jesus.
Loving someone doesn’t include agreeing with their views or actions. The world tells us that we do not truly love others if we don’t agree with them. The loving Christian must find the route of true love. True love is not shy. True love is not cowardly. Loving someone means you desire for them to have a deeper relationship with Christ regardless of whether they favor you in the end or not. Like Welch said in the quote above, we cannot desire approval from humankind so much that we choose to remain quiet in moments where we are presented with the opportunity to share The Truth.
The people of Jesus’ hometown were offended by Jesus’ teaching of Scripture. The crowds included members of Jesus’ family. We see Jesus display this type of love that transcends what we know as love today. He cared more about their eternity in heaven than He did about their approval of Him, and because of His full humanness, it hurt Him as it would us. Jesus probably wanted His family and friends to favor Him, but He knew that telling them the truth of the kingdom was an action that outweighed His own desires.
Jesus chose to truly love these people. He selflessly dismissed the desire for affirmation and spoke truth instead. The world will tell you to remain quiet. It will tell you that being favored by the world is of supreme importance. Some churches are even sending this message too. This leads to selfish love that only gives to receive. Our mission on this earth is not to receive as much love as we can, but instead to show the world a love that transcends the worldly definition of love: a kind of love that leads back to The Father always.
As Christians, it is important to live as Jesus did: a life of showing love in grace AND truth. I encourage you to love those around you more than you need them.
This devotion was inspired by Pastor Mark Biehl of Upland Community Church.
Written by Emily Lehner, writer for the Alumni Center and a sophomore Writing major at IWU. She is active on the cross country and track teams. She is passionate about using her writing skills to share the good news of Christ with others and writes often on her personal blog at www.emilylehner.wordpress.com.