June 30 I Thursday
“Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” —1 John 3:18
Walking with Jesus expands our vision of God’s love, who the gospel is for and our capacity to love others. For the first disciples of Jesus, two sets of brothers—Peter and Andrew, James and John—when Jesus told them to “Follow Me,” they dropped everything and followed Him. We may find it strange that these disciples left everything, but the Gospel of Matthew skips over a year in the life of Christ, so they were no strangers to Jesus. They had already encountered Him and placed their faith in Him; hence, when Jesus said to “Follow Me,” it was not their first interaction with Him. Jesus was calling them into a deeper level of formal discipleship by having them walk closely with Him.
For Peter, Andrew, James and John, their worldview and theology were about to be shaken by Jesus. They were taught their whole life to avoid the cursed, the cast aside and the unclean, yet Jesus was not attracting the attractive, the popular or the clean, but the very people that the disciples were taught their whole lives to avoid. Jesus was reframing their kingdom vision. Following Jesus placed Peter and Andrew, James and John in a difficult position because they certainly faced the condemnation and scrutiny of their peer group; maybe even their own families questioned their choice to follow this controversial Rabbi. But at the same time, they were witnessing God’s love that has come for all people and that this good news of great joy is for everyone—even their enemies and for the people that they avoided their whole lives.
Following Jesus changes the way we think about God, ourselves and others. Around the world today, thousands arrive every day as refugees and asylum seekers in Europe. Loving and caring for those seeking refuge is not always popular within the broader culture. There is a narrative that fills the nations receiving refugees: that these people will be a burden to the society, that they are thieves and murderers, that they are terrorists and criminals and that they are going to take away all the jobs. Presently, there are more than 80 million people on the refugee highway globally. Many of them are meeting the body of Christ, churches and missionaries who are welcoming them with the love of Jesus, and they are encountering who He is and they are giving their lives over to the Lord.
As Christians, may we align our vision with God’s love, understand who the gospel is for and expand our capacity to love others, heeding Jesus’ command in John 15:12, “love each other as I have loved you.”
Prayer: Precious Jesus, thank You for challenging my worldview and theology. I pray that You will help me to love others as You have loved me. In Your name, amen!