All mine are yours and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.John 17:10-11
Many years ago, a friend of mine (father of 3 and long-time friend who I’d worked and done life within many different capacities) told me it meant a lot to him that I loved his children so well. He is not an incredibly emotional man so the strong feeling behind his statement struck me, and I never forgot the importance of the moment. I don’t have children, but I think I’m beginning to see the depth of what he felt.
In recent years, I’ve seen a lot of people I did not want to love. We’ve all witnessed some terrible things in the past few years, and I doubt there are many left unscathed. I didn’t have the patience to deal with ignorance or bigotry with love or understanding. I didn’t have the kindness to see weakness as hurt and confusion that could be redeemed by God. I didn’t have the humility to see that maybe I could also be in the wrong. I harbored so much anger toward hateful people that I became hateful.
In my heart, I could hear His still quiet voice saying to me, “I love them. I love them, TaKasha.” But the angry roaring in my ears was louder, so I went on with so much fire in my heart, I could’ve exploded from it. “WHY and HOW could people be so selfish??” “HOW could anyone who loves the Lord support that politician?” “WHY in the world are so few people using common sense in the challenges we are facing?” Even though most of my questions were worth asking and pondering, I am ashamed of the amount of disgust and judgment I felt for people.
While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.John 17:12-13, 15
Y’all, the heart of the Lord has always been redemption. He desires the world to have His joy, His peace, His righteousness… He longs to make the world whole. The ultimate proof of that can be found in the life and death of Jesus. He spent His days on earth teaching, loving, and uniting those who would follow. The only harsh words He ever spoke were to or about those who sought the oppression or division of the people He loved. Before He died, He went to the Garden of Gethsemane and prayed the prayer found in John 17. Among other things, He prayed that His disciples would be as united as He and the Father were! Pastor Chris Folmsbee said it this way, “God’s work is done through the church, you and me, accepting our calling to be the light and to live out our salvation in a way that reminds the lonely, anxious, seeking, exploring, wondering world that God has not forgotten about them.” We accomplish this task by loving one another well.
The Lord kept reminding me of His love for the people I hated not only because He wanted me to love them, but also because He did not want me to stray from loving Him! We cannot love God and also hate those He loves. In the same way I couldn’t look at a friend and say with honesty, “I love you, but I don’t care what happens to your children.” That parent would look at me and think that I have no idea what it means to love.
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.1 John 4:7-8, 20-21
The Most Important Thing
Friends, we must love others because it is best for us and for the world. It is how we will have our “joy fulfilled” and how the world will know our Father in heaven. (John 13:34-35) Loving a person doesn’t mean you approve of what they say or do. It doesn’t even mean you like them. It just means in your heart, in your truest deepest place, you realize that because God loves them deeply and desires their redemption, you do also.
I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that they world may know that you have sent me and loved them even as you loved me.John 17:20-23
I encourage you to read 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 and take the time to meditate on the passage for your own life. Ask the Lord to give you words and help you be faithful to keep them.
If I am the most talented person to ever walk in my office, but don’t love my coworkers – I have accomplished nothing. If I memorize every scripture but never share them with love, my words have no power or meaning. If I am the wisest woman in the room, but don’t care about what the Lord cares about, I know nothing. If I sacrifice everything I have but will not love those around me, my sacrifice is for nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 TTV (Texas TaKasha Version)
Remember love when you are debating politics or the merits of our leaders. Remember love when you are discussing economic policies, school songs (hook em!), statues, or whatever else the world throws at you. If you don’t have love, you have nothing. It is by far the most important thing.