Focus 40 Day 5: Extreme Living – A broken-hearted love
Prayer Focus: Pray to love lost people – John 21:17
Extreme Living—A Broken-Hearted Love
For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.
—John 3:16 (NRSV)
FOR MOST OF US IN THE ROOM, we had heard that verse enough times to recite it in our sleep. We were sitting in a cultural anthro-pology class in a seminary after all. But that day, our instructor, Dr. MaryAnn Hawkins, gave specific instructions for what we were supposed to do with that verse as she held an inflatable globe in her hands. “I’m going toss this globe across the classroom. Who-ever catches it, whatever part of the globe your thumb lands on, you will include it in your recitation of John 3:16. It will go some-thing like, ‘For God so loved Botswana, (or Fiji or Russia) that he gave his only Son…’ When you are done, toss it to someone else and they will do the same.”
She explained that the goal of the activity, adapted from an exercise created by Cheryl Barton, was for us to begin thinking about God’s love for the world—not just in the sense of the planet earth that we see in pictures taken from space, but in the con-text of the individual nations that made up the world.
It dawned on me for the first time that God’s love for the world was not only big, but it was also involved and personal. It was not just love for “those people over there in that third rock from the sun in the Milky Way.” It was genuine concern, and deep, never-ending and unconditional for the in-dividual people on Earth, in the United States, in the Midwest, in Indiana, in Ander-son, in that classroom at the School of The-ology. It was personal connection. It was, “I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine” (Isaiah 43:1 NRSV).
As I wrestled with what it meant to love like God loves, I began to understand that the commandment to “love your neighbor as you love yourselves” meant beginning those personal connections. It meant it was no longer enough to love “those homeless peo-ple” by donating to the homeless shelters but keeping homeless brother Mickey sepa-rate from my personal life. It meant I could not bask in the shadows of when I did a ser-vice project or went on a mission trip, pre-tending that covered my fair share of “Love your neighbor.” It meant continually seeking to love the neighbors in my current con-text—neighbors whose names I know—with that genuine concern and that deep, never-ending, unconditional agape.
Jesus, break our hearts for what breaks yours. Everything we are for your kingdom’s cause. Show us how to love like you have loved us. Amen
Jael Tang, Church of God Missionary to