Right now I’m on a journey—I’m flying to the Fiji Islands in the middle of the South Pacific Ocean. It sounds somewhat glamorous: the white-sand beaches, tropical palm trees, and sparkling azure ocean. But honestly, I’m not going to Fiji for any of that. My church is sending a group of nine people to help the missionaries there, to serve on their farm and meet the children in their community.
This trip is going to be difficult. Jet lag, time difference, new culture, hard work, sharing Jesus. I will lose the comfort and security I’m used to. I will see new things, like viewing firsthand the global struggles of the impoverished. Yet I want to go because lately, God has been opening my heart to a fresh perspective on Christianity, our mission, and the world. He’s been helping me see the real Jesus a little more clearly.
Jesus, the One whose heart is raw with compassion. He looked over the city of Jerusalem and wept. Caressed the fatally ill and dangerously contagious with his gentle, healing touch. Chose to spend his days with the low, rough, and dirty crowd. Knelt and washed the dust and crap off the feet of his friends.
Though His ministry on earth was to the poor, sick, and rejected, associating himself with these people turned heads. When the religious leaders questioned Jesus about why He did life with them, He answered, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:31-32).
He came to serve broken sinners. To know us personally, to love us deeply. To just be with us, for from His very Spirit and presence come healing. He gave His everything for us. He was shamed. Beaten. Forsaken by God. Condemned unjustly. Tortuously murdered. All this for the love of the spiritually impoverished, the sick souls and broken hearts. Sinners. Me.
I want to enter fully into this marred world like Jesus did. Though I don’t know the extent of what many face—I don’t know the brutality of poverty or the heartbreak of loss—I am ashamed of my pathetic unawareness. Can I learn to look people in the eyes and share the hurt, enter in, just be present, and maybe come to grips with just how much we really need love?
Because we all have this empty crater—this cavity that needs to be filled with perfect love. But love isn’t something I can give. I’m just not capable. No, the world doesn’t need whatever pitiful, shallow, self-centered love I could muster up. People need the love of Jesus. And I definitely can’t provide that. But I do have the Holy Spirit of Jesus, who is the very essence of love. He can fill that deepness within us; His love can penetrate our hearts. And when that love flows out from us, the world will see God.
As John wrote in 1 John 4:7b, 12, “[L]ove is from God. . . . No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.” Wherever I go, whoever I meet, I want Jesus’ love to live in me and overflow.
For now I’ll say “goodbye,” America! Since I will be in Fiji this week, there won’t be a blog post on Saturday. But I look forward to returning to you with a handful of stories, dear friends.