I hate cliches.
They frustrate me, mostly because there is so much truth to them—but also because they are overused and thrown around by people to the umpteenth degree.
But hey, everything happens for a reason, right?
Over the course of these past few months, evil has reared it’s ugly head all over the globe. People have pointed fingers and pointed guns. Loved ones have passed away and so have our standards for morality. We gawk, feel remorse, stand bewildered, and then go on our merry way. We post Facebook status updates saying, “pray for this and pray for that,” but our actions remain uninfluenced (while our judgments and opinions run rampant). We complain about the hatred and racism and prejudice all over the world, but we can’t even manage to love the guy who cuts us off in traffic or the waitress who messed up our Starbucks coffee order.
There’s a very well known quote that says, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Theres another famous quote that says, “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you.” The first quote was spoken by Gandhi, and the second quote was spoken by Jesus.
And they both come down to love.
Sometimes, I tend to overcomplicate things. I try to “do” too much—and for what? Jesus had one mission in life: to seek and save the lost by making His Heavenly Father’s love known. He came to redeem, to restore, to heal, to help, and to revive—but all of those things stemmed from His ultimate purpose which was to love. The word disciple simply means, “to be a follower.” So if we are to make disciples of Jesus and if we are to be disciples ourselves, then we must follow His lead. We must love like He loved—no exceptions, no conditions, no restrictions.
Imagine for a second if we all took responsibility for our own actions (I know, crazy thought right?)—if we stopped worrying about what our neighbor is (or isn’t) doing, and if we just focused on our own behavior, thoughts, and actions. Imagine the impact that could have on the world. Instead of feeling overwhelmed and rendered powerless by all of the brokenness across the globe, I think we’d feel much more empowered and enabled to deal with the issues in our very own backyards. I think radical change would happen.
Some of you may already know that I decided to learn how to speak Xhosa. It’s a beautiful language that the black South African’s speak. So far I can only say a few phrases and words, but I know enough to greet people, to tell them I only speak a little bit of Xhosa, and I know how to say thank you. There’s still a ton of racism lingering around in South Africa, and the language barrier (due to the cultural gaps during apartheid) is one of the greatest factors that prevents intercultural relationships from being built between the whites, blacks, and coloreds. So, I decided to kick that barrier in the FACE—Sam style.
Yesterday at the grocery store, I met a woman who was working at the till (the cash register), and she was a lovely black Xhosa woman and her name was Nthombi. As she finished putting my groceries in the plastic bags, I put on my best Xhosa accent, looked her in the eyes, and said, “Enkosi sissy.” Her face lit up. She smiled so big and began to laugh. Then she promptly responded with, “Wamkelekile, sissy.” It was a simple and yet beautiful exchange of, “Thank you sister. You’re welcome sister.” Love does that. It breaks down barriers, it brings joy, it unites, and it casts out fear. I was able to laugh with a woman who I had never met prior to that moment, all because I made a small effort to reach out to her and love her within the confines of her own comfort zone.
Sometimes it’s the little things in life that leave the greatest impact. For example, my mom has been a school teacher since I was born—and whenever I see some of her old students, they always tell me that my mom was one of their all-time favorite teachers. Why? Because my mom loved her students, she respected them, and she gave them the freedom to be themselves. Don’t get me wrong, my mom wasn’t perfect, and she definitely had her moments, but she went out of her way for those kids, and they remembered her for it—even many years later. My dad and both of my grandparents are the same way. They know how to love people exceptionally well, and I have always admired them for that.
So I want to leave you with a challenge. When your Facebook Newsfeed fills up with stories of trauma and tragedy, don’t lose heart. Love those who are hurting, go out of your way for those in need, and hold fast to the hope that you have in Christ. As Christians, we need to remember that this world is not heaven, and it will never be heaven. It’s a broken place affected by sin and marred by the pangs of death, so we shouldn’t be shocked by the tough times occurring all around us—in fact, those tough times are guaranteed. But God is still in control, and He is still on the throne. We may lose some battles now, but the war has already been won—and we are on the side of victory.
Jesus says in John 16:33, “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in Me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
So while we wait and long for the day when we can spend eternity with our Creator and the Lover of our souls—speak life, share hope, and show love. Who knows what kind of mark that might leave…