Love in our world can be very fickle.
Joseph Stowell in his book, “Fan the Flames” writes, “It was absolutely amazing. I was in West Africa, and the missionaries were telling me that in that culture the larger the women, the more beautiful they were thought to be. In fact, a young missionary who had a small wife said that the nationals had told him she was a bad reflection on him– he obviously was not providing well enough for her. A proverb in that part of Africa says that if your wife is on a camel and the camel cannot stand up, your wife is truly beautiful.”
God’s love is NEVER fickle. God’s love is unconditional. God’s love is available to ALL!
When you receive the undeserved, free grace of God’s love, you cannot help but be a different person because love changes you.
St. Augustine said, “Love slays what we have been so that we may be what we are not.”
God’s love says you’re forgiven. You’re valuable. You’re acceptable. You’re lovable. And you begin to see yourself differently.
But it also changes the way you look at other people.
In Luke 13 Jesus gives us a picture of what God’s love looks like practically.
Jesus is teaching on the Sabbath in one of the synagogues and a woman shows up that has been crippled by a spirit for 18 years. She is all bent over and cannot straighten up.
Jesus sees this woman and calls out to her to come forward. He looks her in the eye and with compassion says, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” He puts his hand on her and immediately she straights up and praises God.
Instead of the religious leaders in the synagogue being excited about the healing, they become upset that Jesus healed someone on the Sabbath.
With great tact, Jesus calls them hypocrites and scolds them saying, “Shouldn’t this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for 18 long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?”
When Jesus said this, many of the religious leaders were humiliated, but the people who witnessed the miracle were delighted and found hope with all the wonderful things he was doing.
Jesus does 3 things in this story that shows us not only what God’s love looks like practically, but it also shows us how we can emulate God’s love practically.
First, JESUS SEES HER.
This woman has probably been coming to the synagogue for 18 years. She is unimportant and can do nothing for the religious leaders. She has become invisible.
As Jesus is teaching, his eyes lock on hers. He sees her. He notices her. He is moved with compassion.
One of the great miracles of the Bible and one of the most defining characteristics of God’s love is that Jesus in His infinite grace see you and me.
No one ever noticed and paid attention like Jesus did.
He saw people. He especially saw the people who other people passed over.
The worlds love sees the powerful, the beautiful, the rich.
Jesus sees the invisible. Jesus sees the “least of these”.
It is my observation that you really have to slow down and be intentional to see people that the world has declared invisible.
Second, JESUS SPEAKS TO HER.
The book of Proverbs says, “There is life and death in the tongue.”
The words that come out of our mouths and roll off our lips have the power to breathe life and grace and hope and strength or they have the power to slice and cut and poison and destroy.
THE CHOICE IS OURS..
Jesus calls her “a daughter of Abraham.”
He doesn’t call her an elderly crippled woman. He says, “You’re a daughter of Abraham.” A daughter of the most famous of all Jewish men, Abraham.
Picture this woman walking home that day after being healed, standing up straight, looking people in the eye for the first time in 18 years, seeing things she hasn’t seen in 18 years and ringing in her ears are those words “daughter of Abraham.”
Third, JESUS TOUCHES HER.
In grade school, the worst thing that could be said about you is that you had kooties!
If you had kooties, you were UNTOUCHABLE.
There are not many things more painful than when people begin to feel like they’re untouchable and no one wants to be around them.
Jesus reaches out. He touches this woman.
Studies have concluded that people who experience meaningful touch on a regular basis actually have a longer life expectancy.
There is a Catholic parish in the Denver Area right next to the Denver Metro Clinic which treats AIDS patients. This church once a year hangs a big banner outside on its wall and passes out flyers in the neighborhood advertising Big Hug Sunday. At the end of the Sunday service they call people forward who are HIV positive so that the congregation can file by one at a time to simply hug every one of them in line.
People who would never darken the doors of a church for any other reason, untouchable by the culture, stand at the front of the church just to have a human embrace.
Jesus often reached out and touched the untouchable to communicate his love.
When you SEE, SPEAK and TOUCH people that the world doesn’t see, doesn’t speak to and definitely doesn’t touch, you are living out the 3 defining characteristics of God’s love.
A LOVE THAT IS NEVER FICKLE, BUT COMPASSIONATE TOWARDS THOSE THE WORLD HAS DECLARED UNIMPORTANT AND INVISIBLE.
The Apostle John wrote in 1 John 3:18 “Let’s not just talk about love, let’s practice real love.”
52 weeks a year, churches talk about the love of God, but too often it ends with just talk.
This week, look someone in the eye that the world has labeled invisible.
This week, speak life into someone who has been told it’s too late for them, by telling them how valuable, gifted and redeemable they are to God.
This week, touch someone that the world has put the label “kooties” on. A hand shake, an arm around a shoulder, a hug, an embrace towards someone who feels untouchable could literally heal a broken heart, a broken body, a broken life.