Sometimes the Lord will use the strangest circumstances to put us together with people that we need practice loving. I do have a right to choose who my friends are, but not the right to tell God who my sisters and brothers in Him will be. That is His business, not mine. His to choose them, mine to love them. Of course, it doesn’t always work out that we end up loving (or even liking) everyone we work within the church, but God intends for us to do a whole lot better than we have been doing! He intends for us to love with His love—agape love. He has given us His Holy Spirit and told us that “God has poured out His love into our hearts” (Rom. 5:5). Our job is to learn to use all that available love to love the church!
Why is it so important to love the church? Because love opens people up to God. Love listens! Love learns! Love loves! People know if you love them; they know if you don’t. When we were working with unchurched youth, we had no expertise, training, or even gifts that we were aware of for this work. I asked that God would give me His love for these young people. He did, and they knew it. Love makes a bridge into someone else’s life, and then God can use it as a highway into their hearts.
Years later, I found myself in the United States. I was asked to work with women. I didn’t like women; I liked kids. However, out of duty, I complied. I taught a Bible study and began to organize a women’s ministry and saw them both grow. One day a friend of mine pulled me aside and said, “You are very good at what you do. You have a lot of shepherding gifts, but you do not love these women!” Ouch! She had caught me. She was right. I knew it, and I felt humiliated that apparently the flock knew it too.
So what should I do about it? I wondered. I could continue doing this job efficiently, all the while waiting for someone who had the “gift” of love to come along and love them. Or I could come to terms with the fact that love is not an option but a necessity! Jesus commanded that we love one another, so I needed to obey. If my gifts in women’s ministry were to amount to more than a hill of beans, I needed to do what I had done years ago when I worked with youth: Ask God for the love I was incapable of myself. So I asked, and He gave. I look back on thirty years of women’s ministry with joy. I could never have done it if I had not submitted my poor human love to Agape’s control. He fueled my love for women all these years.
Who are you trying to love in the church? Are you coming up short? Submit your human love to Agape, and watch Him transform it into a life-changing agent in other people’s lives!
Just Between Us Magazine