We know the verse. After all, it’s in Paul’s love chapter to the church in Corinth. The verses before it are put into beautiful songs and read at weddings. It’s so lovely:
What happens when you don’t feel the love for the people you’re serving?
This is a natural question, coming from a very normal state in the lives of most cross-cultural workers. Actually, it comes up with people who are doing church among their own people group too. There are days when love wains, when it’s hard to even like them, much less want to share Christ’s love with them.
This is a sure sign of one of two things:
- You’ve taken a step back from intimacy with Christ.
- You’re trying to love out of your own power and not his.
When days are dark and you feel anger or bitterness rising in your soul against your adopted people, remember this:
But God proves his own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.Romans 5:8
He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, he gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe in his name.John 1:11-12
But God, who is rich in mercy, because of his great love that he had for us, made us alive with Christ even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace!Ephesians 2:4-5
Dive back into his Word and remember.
Read his Word, meditate on its meaning, remember that it first applies to you before it applies to those you serve. When you’re ridiculed, badly treated, and ignored by those you long to love for the sake of Christ, remember that they are not rejecting you, but Christ. When their lifestyles, words, and actions turn your stomach and make you hesitate like Jonah to speak truth into their lives, remember why God gave us the book of Hosea. We are called to love even when our love is rejected and reviled.
After prayer and clinging to the Word, move a few verses up in Paul’s letter and see how you can practice even one of these things with your people group today:
- Show patience.
- Be kind.
- Don’t envy them.
- Don’t boast about your status as a Christian or Westerner.
- Don’t be rude to them, even when they are rude to you.
- Don’t serve them because of what you can get out of it.
- Leave your irritability at home.
- Don’t make a list of all the ways they’ve hurt you.
- Be joyful when they do good or say a true word you can agree with.
- Bear up under the stress of what it takes to show love to this people.
- Endure what you must to be salt and light in their midst.
Can you do this on your own? No way! Don’t walk out your door without calling on the Spirit to fill and equip you. Ask God to help you see the good in the people you’ll meet today, which means asking him to help you see them through his eyes—the eyes of Love.
We’ll have to ask when we see him, but my guess today would be that the reason love is the greatest over faith and hope is because love compels us to go as his ambassadors to the nations.
We need all the love we can get—It’s a good thing we know the Source who’s willing to fill us to overflowing.
If we don’t love them, who will? May we love as Christ loved us, so they ask why, and we can tell them!
Grace and Peace