Radical Love: UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL
Who are the people—in the Bible, the Christian tradition, or the world today—who inspire you to live the radical love of Jesus Christ?
Of all the disciples, Peter was the one Jesus singled out and scolded. Peter was impulsive, always quick to action, the most unstable of the group. I find it odd that Jesus chose Peter, of all people, to be the rock on which the church was built. Yet, Peter was inspired by his radical love for Christ.
—Scotty Valiani, 19
Answering God’s call, a young American woman accepted a job at an orphanage, caring for little ones in Jesus’ name. Two years later, she felt called to serve as a missionary in Africa. Penniless, with no resources and no training, she made her way to Egypt and opened the first orphanage in a country where unwanted babies were tossed in the river like trash. In her lifetime, Lillian Trasher raised more than 10,000 children; and her children grew to know the Lord.
“In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart,” said Anne Frank, as people took her family, her home, her food, her health, her future, her dreams, and finally her life. Her words put us all to shame.
—Elizabeth Green, 15
An ordained pastor, a veteran, a wife, and a mother, Lorenza Smith gave up her home, her military pension, her family, and her sense of safety to minister to people who are homeless. When God called her, she decided to follow where God was leading. Imagine going to the seediest part of town and sleeping on cardboard, afraid that someone might kill you in your sleep. Lorenza Smith has stared into the face of desperation, insanity, and poverty. For me, she is the embodiment of radical love.
—Katherine Harris, 18
Gary stands on the corner of Baker Road and Highway 92, holding a sign with one frail arm and balancing on a cane. He has been homeless for 31 years, since serving in Vietnam, where he became mentally ill because of exposure to a hazardous substance called Agent Orange. After discovering over 300 Bible verses telling us to help the poor, I decided to be bold; I took Gary to lunch one day—and many times thereafter. Read 1 John 3:17 or Matthew 5:42. Then find your own way to show compassion, selflessness, and radical love to the people who need it most.
—Katie Maxham, 17
Because he loved us, Jesus gave his life as the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. He could have come down from the cross, but love kept him there. He could have stopped the beating, prevented the scourging, and shut the mouths of those who insulted him. He didn’t have to wear a thorny crown, carry a cross, or stand before Pilate while his identity was put on trial. His love for us was deeper than his wounds, stronger than the crown of thorns, as real as the blood that flowed from his side.
What’s so special about us that Jesus would give his life for us? The cross challenges us to accept the love of Christ until we are able to love ourselves. Knowing the depth of his love helps us to understand our value. Our redemption story should be forever sealed upon our hearts, along with an intense desire to love him in return—and to love everyone for whom he died.
—from devozine (March/April 2014). Copyright © 2014 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.