A smelly, dirty, obnoxious little boy would show up at church each Sunday morning. He was fortunate that a caring Christian couple would rescue him from his hellish living circumstances, at least for a few hours every Sunday. People did not want to be near him, as his smell and his behavior were very off putting. One Sunday morning, in the church kitchen, in the basement, that little boy encountered love, true love, for the very first time… as the Creator and Lord of all declared to that little boy of his value. Though smelly, dirty, and obnoxious, that little boy, at 7 years old, understood for the very first time of the value he has and of God’s genuine and faithful love to him! I am that little boy! —Jesse Rivers
Having grown up with some rather significant challenges, experiencing the sting of human rejection, neglect, and abuse, I struggled in my early years to understand my value. For obvious reasons, others around me did not place a whole lot of value in me. However, when I was 7 years old I encountered Jesus’ love and accepted Him as my Savior. When I was 15 years old I encountered Jesus in another supernatural moment, in which He declared over me His great love and the value that He has for me. In this moment I surrendered my life to Him as my Lord. To know that you are loved and valued is something so empowering that it can impact and direct your future!
Knowing that I am loved and valued by God, it is impossible for me to not also value and love others. In our world, too often people strive to be near other people of importance, wealth, and influence. Many, using love as a cover, seek self-preservation and self-promotion. While wanting to protect and provide for oneself is not inherently sinful, love calls us to look beyond ourselves, love the unlovable, value the unvalued, and to care for the hurting and/or oppressed. Jesus is the greatest example of such genuine love.
Jesus gets down in the trenches, streets, bars, brothels, and hard, unsafe, and dirty places. He doesn’t surround Himself with the affluent, powerful, and prominent people (though He does love and want to save them as well). While Jesus walked this Earth in human form, we have historical record that He spent a significant amount of time with the tax collectors, lowest class, poor, oppressed, abandoned, unfaithful, sick, and weak! He did so without disparaging them, but rather loved on and valued them beyond their physical, visible, and/or economic situations.
When Jesus went to the cross, conquered our sins and damnation, and won the victory over hell, death, and sin, how did He do so? Was it power and violence? No! Was it wealth and possessions? No! Was it vanity and arrogance? No! Then what was it? It was sacrifice and love! It was the giving of Himself as a sacrifice, in your stead and mine, and a hopeful, endearing, and conquering love that brought about the final victory! Love wins!
So a quick question for us to ponder… If Jesus, Son of God, chose sacrifice and love as His weapons and tools of choice, how can we choose anything else? If He saw, loved on, and valued those whom society seemed to disparage, how can we not as well? If He, God Incarnate, called unto Himself precious children, how can we not as well? His love should motivate us to also love. If we truly want to win in this life, let’s use the best gift and tools at our disposal… sacrifice and love! Love wins! May we love well for the glory of God!