We love because he first loved us. 1 John 4:19
Have you ever heard these words spoken in a tone that suggests insanity and is tinged with disgust? We see some awful evidence of man's inhumanity to man and we ask, in voices dripping with incredulity; “Who does that?” Contrarily and far less often we see people go out of their way for someone else and ask with the same level of incredulity but having exchanged disgust for disdain; “Who does that?”
I was thinking about that today while praying for a dear friend, whose name I won't use because she abhors the limelight but I am praying she recognizes herself here. This woman without seeming to make any effort leaves people feeling better than they did when she arrived. She has a knack for making you feel as if your tiny effort were some Herculean task but her Herculean tasks are no big thing. Beyond that she does what she does almost surreptitiously. She is the personification of “if your brother asks you to go with him one mile, go with him two.” (Matthew 5:41) Who does that?
Those thoughts led me to another person very near and dear to me who is truly the soul of kindness. You might not think so right off as this person is a bit quiet and does his good deeds mostly behind the scenes. In his wake there is a line of, “oh someone took care of that?” He just does things and doesn't ask for a pat on the back. He gives until it hurts. He gives to people who may never notice and even if they do most likely won't appreciate it. He gives when even he himself is wondering why he's doing it. Who does that?
Obviously I know at least two people who do “that” and a couple of others crossed my mind as well. In thinking of them I thought of the above verse from 1 John. We read it, we say it, we quote it and many of us believe it, but what does it mean exactly?
I think it means putting the kind of actions I described on steroids, in neon lights, injecting them with massive growth hormones and then bathing them in the supernatural love we confess but don't quite understand.
Jesus came to Earth to live as a human being, putting aside many aspects of his true nature, limiting himself to what we can do. He lived that way for thirty-three years and then as if that weren't enough, he allowed the so called rulers, men with no real authority over him, to torture him, to mock him and to kill him. Who? Does? That? Jesus, only Jesus.
Why did he do it? Another verse says, “But God demonstrated his love for us in this; while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
Why do the friends I mentioned go the extra mile? Give what they can't afford to give? Love the “unlovable?” Care about another person's feelings more than their own? And do all of that without looking for applause? Because they both know who does that and they are following His example.