“Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.” 1 John 4:8
This verse about love shapes my understanding of God. God is love! God loves, but there is also something of Godself in love. There is something of God in all love and we are invited as Christians to love in particular ways.
This fall’s stewardship season, starting October 14, invites us to reflect on our experiece of God’s love, revealed through the life and teachings of Jesus, and how it both comforts us and challenges us.
Our accompaniment of Chantal and family these past 2+ years has been guided by a God’s love. It was out of love that we signed up to welcome them to Minnesota, furnish their apartment, make sure they had enough food and help them sign up for the maddenly complex system of services and assistance available to them. The goal was always their self-sufficiency and we were encourged to love them enough to let them find their own way. But as new challenges emerged, love motivated a group here to step up and remain involved on almost a weekly basis helping them as needed. It takes more than love’s good feelings or altruism to do all that they have done. Love sometimes calls us to sacrifice and humility. Jesus embodied those things in the way he loved.
But love cannot always be giving. It must also receive in order to grow. I was reminded of this watching Emma Grisanzio, last year’s Young Adult Service Community Intern, who would spend Sunday afternoons with Chantal and family. Emma didn’t come with any agenda. She just spent time with them, doing whatever the family was doing. Sometimes she helped, but often she just received their hospitality. Chantal fed her! Emma was able to just receive their love and as a result their relationship grew. Watching Emma’s relationship with them grow rhas changed how I now spend time with the family.
For some of us, it is easier to give love than receive it. But love is meant to be a two way street, given and received. We want to make sure others know experience God’s love through our acts of kindness, compassion and service, but do not pause to receive it ourselves. But love will not grow if it is only given. Only when it moves in and out of us freely will we discover love’s true gifts. Only then will we be changed . God is love and that love aims to transform the world. Let’s celebrate what God’s love can do and dare to let it change us.