“For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?”
Matthew 5: 46 & 47
Followers of Christ are called to be different, to live lives that are distinct – transforming. Why? Because Christ’s message was radical. To love the people who love us, who look and act and think like us – that’s normal. But Jesus called us to love our enemies, and that was a radical statement. How is something so unnatural even possible?
There’s an incredible story Nick Ripkin tells in the book Insanity of God about a Muslim man in the Middle East. A Christian ministry opened a health clinic in this man’s community, and each day he would curse and insult the staff as they passed by his shop on their way to work. He did just about everything he could to undermine the clinic until one day he was diagnosed with cancer. Slowly his friends began to abandon him until the only people who cared for him were the clinic’s staff. They reached out to the same man who had cursed them, taking care of him and even offering him medical care. Towards the end of his life, this man gave his life to Christ – all because of the radical love he encountered in Christ Jesus.
But the story doesn’t end there. This man’s family was so impacted by the way the staff ministered and cared for him that his wife became a bold, outspoken Jesus follower. She was so outspoken that she was put in prison. Undeterred by prison, she continued to share about Jesus with the other prisoners until she was moved to solitary confinement. Even isolated from every other person, she was heard singing praises to God. Finally, the police chief released her and asked her to explain what made her so fearless. What a witness!
Do you see the ripple effect of radical love? The love of Christ is a radical love that transforms lives – IF we are courageous enough to live differently. Will you?