How Should We Love?

Follow up from last post, "How Are We Known?," where I reflected on Brennan Manning's observation - well, I guess Jesus' command really - that Christians will be recognized by their love for others.  In reality, I think we're more often known or characterized by those things we stand against.

The post begs the question, "If love is to be the one thing that makes a Christian identifiable, what should we do to show love to others?"

Now, I realize there are a lot of ways to show the love of Christ to the world, but for this post I want to specifically reflect again on Manning's book, The Furious Longing of God, to help us see that it doesn't have to be that hard.  If you look back at the previous post, you'll see that Manning said, "You are going to leave people feeling a little better or a little worse.  You’re going to affirm them or deprive them, but there’ll be no neutral exchange."

So about these exchanges, how do we make sure we leave people feeling better; how do we affirm people?

Manning talks about the healing ministry of Jesus.  He talks not just about Jesus miraculous ability to heal, but the way in which Jesus heals by seeing people, acknowledging their presence, interacting with them, and listening.  And that ministry of healing - the ministry of reconciliation - is ours today.  We have the power to acknowledge, interact with, and hear people in our communities.  Manning writes, 

Lodged in your heart is the power to walk into somebody’s life and give him or her what the bright Paul Tillich called “the courage to be.”  Can you fathom that?  You have the power to give someone the courage to be, simply by the touch of your affirmation.
We have power.  We have power to introduce people to Jesus.  We have the power to give people the courage to be - to affirm their personhood and gifts.  How many people do we ignore  each day?  How many people do we avoid each day?  How many people simply bum us out, so we make it a point to avoid their glance?

Manning says that it is by the simple touch of our affirmation that we demonstrate the love of God.  "To affirm a person," Manning says earlier, "is to see the good in them that they cannot see in themselves and to repeat it in spite of appearances to the contrary."

This is how we should love!  We should be the people who give others the courage to be, who see the good in others even when they cannot see it and continue to point it out.  You are GOOD!  You were created in the image of God!  Whether you see it or not, believe it or not, embrace it or not, God made YOU GOOD!

Our youth were so caught up with this truth this summer, that they had t-shirts made that say, "TOTES TOV."

Totes = Totally
Tov = Hebrew word for "Good" used in Genesis 1 at Creation

It's true.  Each and every person is created in the image of God.  Each and every person has good in them, whether their lives reflects this truth or not.  God creates beautiful things!  God makes everyone Totes Tov!  Let us love with this in mind.  Let us be people that remind the world that there is a God who created them, loves them, and demonstrated his love by sending his Son for us.  And let us demonstrate that love as we see and affirm people as Totes Tov, and in doing so, heal them in Jesus' name.

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