The world is you. The world is me. The world is each and everyone one of us. I’ve been pondering the semantics of saying something is the “world” and neither me nor belonging to me, and there is something unsettling about it. Maybe it’s supposed to be that way. But bear with me for a moment friends in this Day 7 of #Write31DaysofAffirmation. I want to talk about breaking down barriers in our world, namely the defenses we insist on building rather than restoring one another to loving relationships that bring healing and wholeness.
We are the world. It is made up of individuals who are counted a collective whole. You. Me. The men, women, and children of the Middle East, the United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, Bahamas, Indonesia, etc. We are it – the whole world on this swirling blue ball called earth. We are connected because we are all human. Yes, our behaviors and cultures are not the same, but at the core of who we are lies a deeper truth. We are all made in God’s image, deeply loved, and invited to be a part of His kingdom. As I am a Christ follower, this carries great weight and consequence.
I’m called to be in the world but not of it. I get that – and it’s not as simple as a list of legal things I can or cannot do nor is it behavior management. It’s more than that. Consider John 3:16, “For God so love the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes on Him would have eternal life” (Radmacher et. al, 1997). Let those words settle deep in your bones. Now ponder this: God never meant to distance Himself from us. It was His intention, nor His goal. He was and always has been about deep and personal relationship with His creation. His desire is for us and not against us. Why else would he refuse separation and become one of us – flesh a blood to restore a way for us to belong to Him again and to know love unfettered and without bounds? Think about it.
If God were not kind, would he not then distance himself from us? He would have made a wall none of us could ever climb. After all we are all in this world and made from it. We all carry a bit of it in us from the moment we’re born. God could have said, “I want nothing to do with the world;” but His actions refute such things. His actions prove His goodness, His kindness, and His benevolence. His sacrifice shows me again and again that I must choose to love Him, love myself, and love others. It’s kind of hard to love people from afar. It’s hard to make an impact on people when you hold them at arm’s length. If I’m going to love the world, then I’m going to love my right-now neighbors no matter who they are.
Ouch. I’m preaching to myself. You are my neighbor. I love you. You are the world, and I am the world; and yet you are flesh and bone. You are not some far off idea that I must fear, judge, condemn, malign, discharge, despise, destroy, or hate. You are real. You are next door. Whether your five minutes or 5,000 miles away, you are my neighbor, and today I choose to love you because I love God, and I love me. I choose to treat you with honor and in ways the call out the best in you no matter the circumstance. I am rendered incapable of loving you when I build walls and high fences.
Does this mean things are going to be hunky-dory? Of course not. Relationships can be challenging because we are all trying to be seen and heard rather than deferring and preferring. I’m not saying go out there and be somebody’s carpet, but I am saying there is a time and place to practice empathy, gentleness, kindness, and the fruit of the spirit. So tonight I affirm the beauty of your humanity. I affirm that you are made in God’s image. I affirm that judgment does not reside with me. I affirm that you are so worth loving because God loves you, and that is enough for me.
Friends, this is important given the current state of affairs in our country, the U.S.A. Choose love. Wear love. Be love. Be the gospel. We know that love always wins. We have no reason to fear because perfect love casts out fear. I’m ready for revival. I’m ready to make a difference. I’m ready to link arms with you. Are you? I challenge you today, to look at your own life. Are you building walls or tearing down fences? Are you making room for other people’s stories, or are you asserting your opinion as that it must become someone else’s conviction? Let’s choose the way of love.
This is day 7 of my 31 Days of Affirmation. In this series I’ll affirm hope, faith, truth, and encouragement even when life is troubling. Particularly the series ponders what it means to hold on to those things that are good, right, noble, honorable, true, and lovely even when life isn’t so pretty. This means, at least for me, I need to engage and practice and activate my faith as I believe it bolsters my hope. I do this by affirming truth even in the storm. You can read all the series post here. I hope you’ll be encouraged.