Day 30: Do You Love Me? (Acts 14:8-23)
Today’s Passage: Acts 14:8-23
Maybe you are thinking, “Well, that is an awfully personal question, I don’t even know you!”
The word “love” evokes all sorts of images and reactions. I don’t know about you, but I really have to think about what I expect when I think about love.
The world teaches me that I ought “feel love”. Okay, but what does it “feel like”? Popular TV quickly equates love to romance, and romance to sex. We have even coined the phrase, “make love” to refer to sexual intercourse. It seems as if we are inundated with this message, this meaning, of love.
Yet if I disconnect myself from that definition and just think about “real love”, what images come to mind? Perhaps that couple who have been married for many years. They’ve been through the best, and the worst, life has thrown at them.
What images come to your mind?
Today we read about Paul, in yet another city, and we read of a dramatic healing.
In this instance, Paul is not in a synagogue, and so his speech starts not with Abraham, but with God and creation. Yet the pattern we have read of quickly emerges. Paul and his companions go from being gods to goats.
The non-believing group stirs up trouble. In today’s reading, the non-believing group is from the last city he and his companions visited. They are so stirred-up that they travel to this city to chase him down. We read they gather both Jew and non-Jew.
This time they seemingly achieve their mission. They stone Paul, leaving him for dead. Let’s not miss this. He was stoned.
Miraculously he was healed. His action? He went back into the city, and then went onto another city AND THEN he turned around, retraced his steps, and went back to all the places that had either plotted, or literally tried, to kill him.
Why? What is his motivation? What is so deeply inside of him that it drives him to this behavior?
My answer is love. Love of Jesus, and love of people. Sounds like something I read somewhere once.
You can love Jesus, receive him, and keep him to yourself. But if you love people, and if Jesus is really changing life on a daily basis, then you and I will tell others. Please note the difference between Jesus daily changing us, as compared to a “past-moment”.
Certainly, there was a time that I turned to Jesus, and a BIG change happened. But he is never done with me, or you. Daily we must come to him, receive his love, and respond.
When we are with him daily, his love is present in us, and we will want to share his love with others.
One reflection earlier, I noted that I wrote about expectations. That I should expect a bunch of people won’t love me, or even like me, for sharing Jesus. I wrote that I needed to “get this straight” in my head. But then I wondered why I possibly don’t share Jesus, in even a small way, like handing someone a Gospel of John.
I postulated that it might be because I want people to like me, but maybe there is something deeper?
I ask these questions of myself because the answers take me to my heart.
Let me explain. When we are told that it is our duty to share Jesus, that sounds a lot like Law to me. And, let’s be clear, I fail at keeping The Law. If The Law is my only motivation, then I am doomed.
But what if Love, and not Law, is the motivation?
Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commands”. Loving Jesus and people are key. I reflect on that verse of John here.
The key is loving people. Now, I wonder if, when you think about St. Paul, do you picture him as a lover of humans? That is not the first picture that comes to my mind. It is clear that he loves Jesus, but people?
He does. Consider these words,
“…my little children, for whom I am again in the anguish of childbirth until Christ is formed in you! 20 I wish I could be present with you now and change my tone, for I am perplexed about you.” (Galatians 4:19-20)
“…I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh.” (from Romans 9:2-3)
There are other examples in Scripture of his love for people, which I think is key to sharing.