The world is not as it should be. That’s the phrase that keeps running through my mind as I consider the awful things that are going on in the world today, near and far. When I see pictures of churches burned in Niger and think of my friends serving there and the Christians living there… the world is not as it should be. When I consider the 32-year old man from my church here in Lima who was apparently murdered by one of his close friends… the world is not as it should be. A young mother of 3 littles, wife of a teacher at the International Christian School of Lima, taken by cancer in a matter of days… the world is not as it should be. The Craigslist murders of the couple in Georgia, the captivity and beheading of people, the terrible things done to innocent people through sex trafficking, and the list could go on… The world is not as it should be, and I long for Heaven, for Jesus to return and set it right again.
It further saddens me that the response of many to the evil and hate is more evil and hate. Even well known, public Christian figures have released statements encouraging fear and hate of the perpetrators of the crimes. Fear should not be our response when evil arises. “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” (1 John 4:18, NIV). And furthermore, as we hear the Word of the Lord earlier in the chapter,
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does no love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. [1 John 4:7-17, NIV]
We rely on the love God has for us. Our hope is in the Lord. If we know God’s love, then we testify to that which He did for us by sending his Son into the world that we might live through Him. We testify that Christ is an atoning sacrifice. We place our hope in the Savior of the world and continue to love in a world that does not know God.
My prayer for Lima recently, and for all of us, really, is that we may learn to love those around us. If we really understand the immensity of the love that God has for us, we will love those around us because there will be no room for anything else in our hearts! I am not perfect in this area, but I pray that God grows me in my ability to show love too.
If you are reading this, then I pray for you as Paul prayed for the Ephesians,
For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have the power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. [Ephesians 3:14-21, NIV]