Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us. (1 John 4: 11-12)
Her name was Kay. She was a member of the first church I served. A year after meeting her, she was diagnosed with cancer. On the morning before going into surgery, I went to the hospital to pray with her.
She was on the gurney. As the attendants were wheeling her through the doors into the operating room, I said, “Kay, all shall be well. Jesus loves you.”
She didn’t nod, smile, or say thanks for my words. Instead, she told the attendants to stop. She then lifted herself up, took me by the lapels of my coat, yanked my face to hers, and said, “Young man, I don’t believe Jesus loves me until and unless I know you do.”
At that moment, I learned more about pastoral care than I had through three years in the seminary. At that moment, I also learned a lot about how Jesus wants us to love each other. Until then, I didn’t have much of a connection with Kay, but through this interaction, she became one of my great teachers.
We often talk about how Jesus is “God with skin.” That’s what the Incarnation gives to us—not a God far away, but a God who’s the flesh of our flesh and bone of our bone. One of the most important ways Jesus gives us His skin is through our skin. If we don’t incarnate the love of Jesus through actually loving others, the Incarnation of Jesus will remain a theological concept and not a fleshly reality to many people.
I hope and encourage you to consider what Kay’s words to me could be saying to you. No matter how many times you tell others that Jesus loves them, they might not believe you unless they can feel that you do. The love of Jesus may not touch their hearts unless they can trust that there’s love in your heart for them.
To love Jesus is to love Kay and Lucy and George and so on. I’m not sure if anyone arrives at loving everyone during this lifetime, but we can’t stop trying, praying, or asking for Jesus’ help to do so.
- Has anyone ever so loved you that you felt like Jesus loved you? What about how they treated you helped you to know that you were loved by them and by Jesus?
- Jesus is truly “God with skin” for us. Jesus wants all those who believe in Him to be the extension of God’s skin and love to others. How do you extend God’s skin and love to others?
- As I said above, Kay became one of my great teachers. Have you ever had any teachers who helped you to understand today’s scripture—that when we love each other, God lives in us, and God’s love is perfected in us?