Suffering, resurrection and Christian love – day 18
To love without limits
Sacrificial love across all boundaries was indeed something that characterised the early church. Cyprian of Carthage (200-257 AD) encouraged his followers to show grace and mercy. According to Cyprian, there is nothing special about loving your own people. He himself was martyred because of his confession as a Christian. Those who want to overcome evil with good must learn to love as God does – the kind of love that includes your enemies. It was certainly something the first Christians did, when they cared for Romans during the plagues.
In his book The Irresistible Revolution, Shane Claiborne talks about the months he spent with Mother Teresa in the sewers of Kolkata. He talks about how people often ask him what Mother Teresa was like. Shane says, “She was short, wrinkled, like a beautiful, precious and wise grandmother.” The one thing he will never forget are her deformed feet. “Every morning, during communion, I stared at her feet. I wondered if Mother Teresa may have had leprosy. Of course I would never have asked.” One morning, one of the nuns asked Shane if he had seen Mother Teresa’s feet. Curious, he said, “yes.” To which the sister replied, “We have barely enough shoes to meet everyone’s needs. Mother Teresa does not want someone to have the worst pair, so she always wears them herself. The years of bad shoes have deformed her feet.” This is the kind of love that puts others before yourself. It is love that comes straight from the heart of Jesus.
It is possible to love as Jesus loved. The Lord Jesus equips every believer to live this kind of love. In the same sermon in which Jesus instructs us to love (John 14), he speaks about the Holy Spirit who comes to empower believers. Through the work of the Spirit, the Father and Son will live with believers, and teach us his words and commands. The Holy Spirit will constantly remind us of what Jesus said and empower us to obedience (John 14:15-25). The Holy Spirit will teach us to love without boundaries, as Jesus did.