‘The only way to learn about love is by loving’
Have you ever read a book that actually seems to be reading you? The Bible aside, the book I’m currently reading is doing just that.
‘Radical Love in a Broken World’ by Ron Nikkel really packs a punch- and I have only read the first 3 chapters. It has made me consider many things, but the most interesting so far is this idea of ‘Radical Love’.
Radical- ‘of the basic nature of something; fundamental. Supporting complete political or social reform (Oxford English Dictionary).
I have no problem with radical love. If it means reaching out in loving ways to the homeless, destitute, abused, abandoned, mentally ill or rejected. What I have come to notice about myself is that I find it much easier to love those with overwhelming life issues. Those closer to home in my everyday life prove a greater challenge.
Maybe I’m in the minority here, but I suspect I am not. The assumption is that we struggle to love the stranger in need. We are too preoccupied with our own needs and the needs of our immediate families to cast our nets any wider.
Yet my experience is the exact opposite, and always has been.
I believe I am wired this way for a purpose. However, this is no excuse for avoiding radically loving those closest to me in the same way as I would the stranger in need.
I don’t want to weigh the pain and needs of those closest to me on a scale. I don’t want to be comparing them to the extreme needs of the people I meet in the wider community. Pain is pain and need is still need. Whatever the form and whoever the person is.
As always our example is Jesus; He radically loved those closest to Him (The Disciples) as well as the crowds and individuals He encountered each day.
He loved the Disciples even when they lacked faith, argued over who was the greatest, envied each other and completely missed the point of His mission on Earth. He loved them when they rebuked the children who came to Him for a blessing, struggled to understand His teachings and denied knowing Him out of fear. He even loved them when they all fled and abandoned Him hours before His death by crucifixion.
Now that’s radical love.
For me, loving radically includes taking time to talk and listen to my housemate when I have just walked in the door from work, exhausted and spent from giving out all day.
Its feeling tired yet washing up other people’s plates with a good attitude, listening without interrupting, letting someone else get the credit for my hard work.
It’s in those moments that ‘radicalness’ is really called for.
‘Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth’
– 1 John 3 v 18
What does ‘radical’ love look like to you?