For the Love of People
~By: Susanna Kozlow~
It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. John 13:1-5
I have recently been studying this chapter of John, and I cannot wrap my mind and heart around how my Lord and Savior, the King of Kings, God Himself, humbled Himself at the moment that He knew His life on earth was coming to an end; a horrific end with suffering, no less. But most of all, He washed the feet of His enemy at this point, Judas. This was the man who had followed Jesus for some time, whom He had taught and shown His love and miracles, but had turned his heart against Him. Jesus knew this and still...STILL...washed his feet.
I often pray for Jesus to help me understand His heart. As I follow Him and do all I can to live a life of constant pursuit of holiness, I come to this: the true LOVE of PEOPLE. I am not going to sugarcoat it, it is HARD. People are difficult. People have walls up that you almost have to walk away from because they are seemingly impossible. People have past hurts that need to heal. People are going through so much pain that the only way they can feel better is by hurting others. Then you have those who make it clear that their darkness has no place for the light of God. BUT STILL...we must metaphorically wash their feet. We must show the love that Jesus exemplified when He walked this earth, and still shows today.
Looking back at my life and thinking about all the things I have done to hurt others, I wonder what my Heavenly Father thought. I wonder what He saw in me that brought me to the place of surrender I am in today. I think about those who prayed on my behalf. I think about those who saw something in me that I couldn't see. It always goes back to the same reason: the love of PEOPLE. Someone, or many, loved me enough to pray for me. Someone saw me as God saw me and loved me enough to speak truth to me. Or maybe it was someone who didn't really love me but prayed that God help them love me enough to care. I don't really know how it came about, but I do know my Heavenly Father wanted me enough to take down every wall I had up, to heal the hurt I dealt with, and to bring me to the life He always intended for me to live.
Being in women's ministry, there is so much I see and deal with. It's not easy in any way, shape, or form. I am constantly reminded to extend grace because God extends grace to me. We live in a broken and hurting world. Women are mothers, wives, friends, sisters, daughters, and try to live the best they can in this broken world. Many try to do this without Jesus. With that comes heavy burdens they carry. The weight of the world sits on their shoulders. The constant comparison is all over social media. They want to be loved and included, and some can't quite make it all work. Why? Because it's a weight that is not intended for them to carry. It's a weight Jesus asks to carry for them. So it all goes back to this: I must love PEOPLE (women) enough to care. I must pray, invest my time in their lives, and love their children and families. I must remind them that yes, your husband may not be the best man right now, but God does not intend for you to walk away because you're not happy. God wants your marriage to be reconciled. I must see the need and help them understand that God sees them in a very different way. And with that, they begin to recognize that they are warriors for Jesus Christ; soldiers for God's Kingdom.
At this time in my life, I happen to love someone who walks in darkness as a personal choice, who has hurt me in many ways and broken my heart into so many pieces. There are many times that forgiveness is a choice I have to make, everyday. I have come to God's throne countless times begging for my heart to continue to love as He loves His child. Because, YES, God loves all His children. As I pray and beg, I always hear the same answer: I must love because He first loved me. Always.
Now, you might be reading this and think, there is that one person (or maybe many) who is impossible to love. Your presence makes them run the other way. Friend, I know there are those you must love from afar. You forgive and you move on. I get that. Our Mighty and Merciful God grants you that peace. But what if He doesn't intend for you to love that someone from afar? What if He decides you will need to live through this? With His help, you will see all the glorious things He does through your surrender to Him. As Christ followers, we know it is never only about us, it's always about someone else.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4
So how do we consider it pure joy? How do we love people as God loves us? How do we deal with the hard and ugly of this world? How do we extend grace when all we want to do is run? How do we actually LOVE people enough to want to see them set free?
Through countless days, nights, months, and years I have come to understand this one simple and true fact: we have to love the Kingdom of God MORE than our own lives. That is the HOW! In order for us to surrender in obedience, we have to want our hearts aligned with Jesus more than anything. We must want this so much that we are not willing to set one hair outside of His reign over us. In all our sinful nature, it it impossible, but with a life following Christ it is possible and necessary. We have to spend time with our Heavenly Father, everyday. We must ask God what He thinks and wants before our own thoughts and wants. We must believe in the power of prayer in everything we do and say. We must notice when the Holy Spirit wants to use us in some way. Friend, with man there is always an impossible. Our enemy loves to remind us of that, and he never gets tired of doing so. BUT, with GOD it is ALWAYS POSSIBLE!
Our love for people needs to keep growing stronger and be evident in everything we want and do. If we truly love people, we will understand the heart of our Heavenly Father.
I love this saying, because it rings so true in my heart: "You will never look into the eyes of someone God does not love." And when in doubt, think back to when someone looked into your eyes and saw how much God loves you.
Now, let's wash some feet!