This year the world’s population will pass the seven billion mark. What does it mean to love seven billion neighbours? In a previous post we saw that we need not justify ourselves or set ourselves up as a saviour of others because Jesus is our Saviour and he is sorting the world out. So how should we respond to seven billion neighbours?
1. Let the cross guide your love
John says: ‘This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?’ (1 John 3:16-17) The cross defines what love is and therefore what it means to love our neighbours.
It is not our job to save the world. But that does not mean we can be indifferent. It is our job to love others and the measure of that love is the cross. That means we give our lives to love others. We cannot give ten percent and say, ‘I’ve done my bit.’ We organize our whole lives around loving God and loving others.
2. Let the Spirit guide your life
We cannot love everyone, but we can love someone. So be guided by the Spirit. Do not try to do everything. Do what the Spirit leads you to do – whether through circumstances (meeting some on the Jericho road) or the Spirit speaking through God’s word or a person or opportunity laid on your heart.
Jesus is the great orchestrator of mission who weaves together all of our contributions, however big or small. He is organising us by his Spirit, along with thousands of others, to complete his plan.
So at the end of each day, do not ask, ‘Whom have I not loved?’ Because there will always be a list of 6,999,999,999 or 8 or 7 people whom you have not loved. Instead, ask, ‘Have I have given myself to serve others? Have I followed the leading of the Spirit?’
What is God doing for seven billion needy neighbours? There are many answers to that question. But the main answer is the cross and resurrection. Jesus suffers with us and Jesus suffers for us to redeem our world.
And his resurrection is the promise and beginning of a new world – a world without suffering or poverty or tears.
And even now, through the Holy Spirit, Jesus is creating communities of light in the darkness of our world so that in neighbourhood after neighbourhood there are people who love their neighbours and whose shared life points to the new creation.
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