August Devotion: Love Triumphs
by Rob Kilpatrick
16For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. John 3:16-17 (NIV)
With the recent events in Norway still in our papers and on our screens there are sombre reflections to be made. Clearly the killer is a self-deluded, very angry, very bitter, expression of broken humanity. Unfortunately he’s not the first, nor the last, to break into our consciousness in a dramatic and rather frightening fashion. All of this happening in a nation known for its tolerance and generally peaceable modis operandi. Such hate is obvious and spectacular and disconcerting. But it’s not all that happened in the world this week.
This week in the world hundreds of thousands of children looked after aging parents with love tenderness and respect, giving them dignity and, warmth and motivation for life. This week around the world hundreds of thousands of babies were born into loving homes and to adoring parents. This week around the world millions of neighbours helped neighbours, millions of young people went out of their way to affirm a lonely or depressed friend, multitudes of grandchildren made grandparents laugh, people fell in love for the first time and laughed and felt warm and tender inside, the poor gave sacrificially to help others who were poor and people in service industries went way, way beyond the call of duty to care for and comfort those they were paid to serve. In fact, love was everywhere around!
Recently in a little chapel in Cyprus I sat in an Orthodox service conducted by a friend of mine. I’ve come to treasure many useful insights from the Orthodox branch of the Church. One of the phrases of the liturgy was “Love is God” Now I’ve heard the phrase before as preachers have tried to describe the character of God and the kind of ‘congruence’ that there is in John’s bold proclamation that God is love. But it really struck me powerfully in that service. Where do I see God at work? Where I see love in action! It’s really what Jesus said to John’s disciples when they came and asked him “Are you the One”? The evidence offered by Jesus was not around sound doctrine, not around powerful worship or sacrificial tithing. It was about the very physical and social expressions of love.
The blind see,
The lame walk,
Lepers are cleansed,
The deaf hear,
The dead are raised,
The wretched of the earth learn that God is on their side.
"Is this what you were expecting? Then count yourselves most blessed!" (Luke 11:4-7, Message Version)
There are many tears to shed this week. Not just for the murdered young of Norway but the brutalized in Burma, the 'starving to death' in Ethiopia and Sudan, those who live or die in fear, in loneliness, in hopelessness and utter desolation. But love will win and love wins every time we show God’s love to a hurting world, every time we choose forgiveness over self righteousness, every time we seek reconciliation over winning and every time we offer a cup of water in the name of the greatest lover of humanity of all time, Jesus. I want to be found on the side of love.