Recently as I was scrolling through Facebook, I saw a Christian t-shirt advertised for a Black Friday sale. The shirt said “So Will I.” Since ads are constantly popping up on social media, I continued skimming my news feed, not giving much thought to the shirt.
But the phrase “So Will I” kept coming to my mind. What did that phrase mean as far as Christianity? Obviously it meant something or a faith based company would not be selling it, right? But I could not quite figure out what it meant.
So I did whatever I do when I want answers for something I don’t understand that I see online. I googled it. As a youth group leader, I have also had to google things like HMU (hit me up), SMH (shaking my head), and to find out what a streak is on Snapchat (which by the way, back in my day streaking meant something completely different).
Apparently it is a song written by Hillsong that inspired the shirt. One line really struck me as I read the lyrics and has continued to play through my mind.
“If You gave Your life to love them, so will I.”
In January (2018), I went as a youth leader on a winter retreat to the Christian Retreat Center in East Waterford, Pennsylvania. I can truly say that weekend changed my life. I was there to lead and mentor teens, but God used that weekend to begin a transformation in me.
Jaiden (the youth leader and my now son-in-law) had the kids look at our ministry and what our purpose should be. Looking at the Greatest Commandment and the Great Commission, we narrowed down our purpose to “Love God, Love People & Make Jesus Followers.”
It seems as though the theme of 2018 for me has become to love God more and love people like Jesus.
Loving God sounds easy. I love Him… I go to church every week… I read my daily Bible verse from my app when it pops up at 10am every morning… I listen to worship music in my van when I run to Target. So I’m good on that part of the commandment, right? Wrong!
While I did love God, I had gotten apathetic and lazy in my walk with Him. I was just going through the “Christian” motions. But He wants me… my heart and my soul and my mind. He wants it all. My whole being. Even the ugly parts that I like to hide.
I have been reading and studying my Bible but also doing daily devotions with a group of believers, talking with friends about Jesus and listening to messages which has deepened my love for God. Prayer, which is just talking to God, is another way to love Him deeper, especially if you are just open, vulnerable, raw and real when you pray. Plus He knows all our crap anyway so why try to hide it?
Loving God with your entire being (heart, soul and mind) is probably impossible as selfish humans who get caught up in our lives but boy… just trying to love Him deeper and denying yourself really changes your perspective. And it makes you eager to know Him and love Him more.
As far as loving people, we are to love…
the awkward, the nerds, the disabled, the annoying, the cheaters, the bratty, the pessimistic, the promiscuous, the cocky, the prideful, the know-it-all’s, the liars, the whiners, the judgmental, the gossipers, the drunks, the drug addicted, the homeless, the wealthy, the complainers, the pretty, the ugly, the fat, the rude, the dramatic… get the picture?
We are not only called but also commanded to love them. And let’s face it… you and I may (or definitely) fit into one of those categories. If you don’t think you do, then I would start with prideful.
I love my husband. My kids. My family. My friends. Even that is sometimes exhausting but loving the people I am not naturally drawn to… that is not easy. Loving those I dislike is hard. And loving those who have hurt me (or even worse… hurt my loved ones) is almost impossible. But we are to love them anyway. And even more… love them like Jesus loves them.
Dang! I don’t always want to follow what God says quite honestly because truthfully I do not want to love certain people. A quote Jaiden recently shared in a sermon really struck me. It was a quote by Dorothy Day who said, “I really only love God as much as the person I love the least.” (Ouch!)
Why must we love them? Simply put… because Jesus does and because He tells us to do it.
He died on the cross and rose again to save me but also the sinners… oh wait… that is also me! He loves a murderer who is sitting on death row just as much as He loves me, a chubby paraplegic sitting in the pew every Sunday. In fact, the Bible is filled with stories of “sinners” (including murderers, prostitutes, adulterers, etc) who changed their lives completely after believing and following God.
No one in God’s eyes is unlovable or unusable… especially those we deem undesirable. This type of love isn’t necessarily the hand holding, hugging, best friend love, but rather love that reflects Jesus and His attributes. Like forgiving wrong doings and not holding grudges, showing understanding and not judging, being gentle and not harsh, exhibiting selflessness and not selfishness, serving rather than taking… the kind of love that isn’t natural unless you are loving God! Then His characteristics start to meld into your characteristics.
If you love God, you start to love people. As you love people, you love God deeper. It’s cyclical.
I didn’t buy the t-shirt and I didn’t download the song but the message is rooted throughout His Word and needs to be cultivated into our hearts.
“If You gave Your life to love them, so will I!”
Winter Retreat to Christian Retreat Center with Relentless Student Ministries