• easpenner

A Kind of Love that Stretches from the Manger to the Cross

Gosh it’s hard to imagine, isn’t it?

That the same God Who made you also created the person who hurt you the most.


Gosh it’s hard to imagine, isn’t it?

That the same God Who made you also created the person lying opposite of you this election season.


Gosh, it’s hard to imagine, isn’t it?

That the same God Who made you also created the person who spoke so poorly of you behind your back.


Gosh, it's hard to imagine, isn't it?

That the same God Who made you also created the person who you have yet to forgive.


Gosh, it's hard to imagine, isn't it?


We are living in a world today where offending someone has become as common as our involuntary breathing. Judgement is running wild. And love doesn't seem the hold power to be able to overcome it all, as it seemingly at one time used to be able to do. Everyone seems to know everything. Everyone seems to want to be right.


And loving our neighbor?

The same neighbor who God created;

as He did you; in His image?

Almost unimaginable, at times.


We’re all a work in progress.


But, God?

He never stops asking.

It's written all throughout His word.

One of His greatest commandments

and requests of His children.


"Love your neighbor as yourself." (Mark 12:31)

"Outdo yourselves in honoring one another." (Romans 12:10)

"Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another." (John 13:34)


And, goodness, that doesn't mean it's easy.

But, wow, if we all only tried just a little bit harder.


As a teacher for a dozen years, one of the very first "lessons" I held with my first, third and fourth graders each year was as simple as it can get. Even preschoolers could inhale the significance of this lesson into their tiny, growing souls.


It all starts with a tube of toothpaste.

And an empty plate.


I would have students gather in a circle. And let each one squirt part of the tube onto the plate. Until it was gone.


When the tube was empty, I would then ask them to help me put the toothpaste back into the tube. And it never failed. They would look at me with impossible eyes. How could I ask them do to something we all knew they couldn't possibly do?


So, we talked.


We talked about our words. How once they come out of our mouth, they cannot be put back in. How once our actions come from our bodies, they cannot be taken back. We talked about kindness. We talked about acting with care and compassion.


And we kept the image of that toothpaste at the center of our discussion all year.


This year, more than ever, the world could use such a simple, but profound lesson. Your words carry as much power as life itself. They carry a weight that could make or break someone.


Throughout life, you will have numerous opportunities to use your words in ways that will hurt, demean or even slander others. You will also have countless opportunities to use your words to inspire, encourage, heal and love others.


Sometimes, you are going to make the wrong choice. But, just like the tube of toothpaste, once your words leave your mouth, you can never take them back. Yet, you can apologize. And, you definitely can forgive if someone speaks in a way that hurts you.


The year 2020 has been a year.

It's been a year of unmasking.

It's been a year of overcoming.

It's been a year of division.

It's been a year of coming back

together, to help one another,

in ways we never imagined possible.

It's been a year of prayerful redemption.

It's been a year of working toward our true selves.


The next few weeks are giving us such an opportunity. To bring it back to the elementary classroom. To bring it back to the stable. With a new baby Who promised to save the world. To bring it back to the cross on the hill. Where the Son of God gave His last breath to save the entirety of the world.


To use our words carefully.

To think before we speak.

In-person and behind a screen.

To speak with kindness.

To speak with fairness.

To speak with love.

Even when we don't "get our way".


Gosh, it's hard to imagine, isn't it?

How can God love someone I dislike so much?


But, God?


Can you imagine how He feels?


How can one of My children so very much dislike another of My children, both whom I love so much?"


It’s so hard to imagine God loving someone so different from ourselves. But, wow, He sure does.


It’s hard to imagine God giving up His own Son to save someone so very different from ourselves.


But wow, He sure did.


He saved you.

He saved me.


Never for once imagining just how much His children would fight against the love He created from the manger to the Cross.


If only we could all remember those beautiful, simple images for the rest of the year to come.


The tube of toothpaste.

The manger in the stable.

His Son hanging on the cross.


It’s so hard to imagine God loving someone so different from ourselves. But, wow, He sure does.


The same kind of love He simply asks from each one of us, toward one another.


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