Love Crosses the Divide
On Tuesday, when introducing this week’s emphasis on generational synergy and the importance of legacy, I mentioned my mom and grandmother. They loved Jesus, lived godly lives, and prayed for their kids and grandkids EVERY day. No finer people ever lived. I like to think they are watching this week’s posts with us - after all, they are part of the great cloud of “witnesses” - enjoying the fruit of their labors. Perhaps Abba, when one of their kids, grandkids or great grandkids does something for His Kingdom, glances their way and winks while mouthing a “thank-you.”
Today’s post is written by our daughter, Sarah (Weinberg), and me. Sarah chose the topic and did most of the work. Not surprisingly, she chose the subject of “love.” Sarah is a lover of people…and dogs, and cats, and birds, and…
Jesus, of course, walked in perfect love. He demonstrated that we could speak out against evil, stand for truth, reject hypocrisy, and make other righteous stands - all while loving perfectly. Christ epitomized loving the person while rejecting the sin, even to the point of stating from the Cross - the most heinous, unjust and evil act in history - “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)
He expects us to emulate Him. We all just love the verses, “You have heard it said, ‘You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy? But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:43-44). Ouch! In today’s post, Sarah does a wonderful job of reminding us that if we are to embody, represent, and reveal Christ - and heal the divisions in our land - it will be through our love. She says:
“When my dad asked me to write a ‘15,’ I asked him if it would be ok if I give my perspective on the many divisions we are currently seeing in our culture. I’m grateful that he trusts my ‘millennial perspective’ on this topic, and I appreciate the opportunity to speak to you all today.
“When thinking about the many divisions we see in the culture of America right now (racial, political, and religious to name a few) I asked myself these questions: ‘If Jesus were right here, walking among us and leading the church of America in this time, what would He say to the people who don’t know Him? How would He love them? How would he speak about them when they weren’t around? What would He say to heal their hurting, bitter, angry, or deceived hearts?
“These questions led me into a season of soul searching, because what I am frequently hearing spoken by we, the church, is not what I believe Jesus would be speaking. I think, perhaps, the culture of division we are so surrounded by in America has crept into the culture of the church. Have we forgotten how to see people as people? A person with a different political persuasion is a person. Someone with different views on sexuality is a person. An individual who espouses a different religion is a person. Each of them deserves love and kindness, and I believe anything else grieves God’s heart.
“As I said, I am a millennial. My generation, along with Gen X, is sandwiched between the hardworking, confident Baby Boomers and the free-spirited, compassionate Gen Z. I endeavor to see and appreciate the perspectives of each generation, and have often thought about how generational gaps can be bridged. I was pondering this as I watched my dad on Flashpoint last week. He spoke about a vision he had in 2001. In the vision, he saw how hard it was going to be to disciple the younger generation in the coming move of God without cramming religion down their throats. How do we do this? How do we bridge this great divide? I truly believe the answer isn’t as complicated as we often make it. It’s as simple as WE LOVE THEM! Just as they are. 1 John 4:19 (TPT) says, ‘Our love for others is our grateful response to the love God first demonstrated to us.’ It’s wonderful when He simplifies things for us.
“It can be tempting for us to want to love someone for who we believe they should and could be. But we can accept and love people as they are without agreeing with their beliefs or lifestyles, and this is how the divide can be crossed. Love creates bridges, whereas judgment only widens the chasm. God’s love conquers hate - every single time. When you don’t know what to do, love is the response, and love is the answer.”
“One of America’s greatest adversaries in World War II was Mitsuo Fuchida, the Japanese general commander who led the devastating attack on Pearl Harbor. He was a hero to the Japanese, hated by the Americans.
“Shortly after the attack, Jake DeShazer enlisted in the U.S. Air Force with a personal vendetta against Commander Fuchida and the Japanese. He participated in Jimmy Doolittle’s secret bombing raid over Tokyo four months after Pearl Harbor. During the mission, however, DeShazer’s plane ran out of fuel and he was forced to land in Japanese-occupied China. Captured by the Japanese, he was held as a prisoner of war for more than 3 years.
“Being close to death due to starvation and torture, DeShazer begged his captors for a Bible. After reading many passages, he gave his heart to Jesus. ‘I suddenly discovered God had given me new spiritual eyes,’ he later said. ‘I found my bitter hatred for them [the Japanese] changed to love.’
“DeShazer’s salvation gave him physical strength and purpose for living. When the war ended, he was released, fully recovered, returned to the United States and enrolled in a Bible college. Upon his graduation, he returned to Japan, only this time he brought love and a message of hope, instead of hatred. Years later, Mitsuo Fuchida, the Japanese commander was stepping off a train in Tokyo when an American missionary handed him a pamphlet entitled, ‘I Was a Prisoner of Japan,’ written by DeShazer. Impressed with the peace DeShazer had found in Scripture, the desperately unhappy Fuchida purchased a Bible and began studying it. He was struck by the words of Jesus: ‘Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing’ (Luke 23:34). He realized he was one of those for whom Christ had prayed.
“‘I requested him to forgive my sins and change me from a bitter, disillusioned ex-pilot into a balanced person with purpose in living,’ he said. ‘I would give anything to retract my actions at Pearl Harbor...but it is impossible.’
“This man, who led the raid of death, spent the last twenty-five years of his life as an ‘ambassador of peace’ sharing the message of love and forgiveness.”(1)
“If I were to speak with eloquence in earth’s many languages, and in the heavenly tongues of angels, yet I didn’t express myself with love, my words would be reduced to the hollow sound of nothing more than a clanging cymbal. And if I were to have the gift of prophecy with a profound understanding of God’s hidden secrets, and if I possessed unending supernatural knowledge, and if I had the greatest gift of faith that could move mountains, but have never learned to love, then I am nothing.
“And if I were to be so generous as to give away everything I owned to feed the poor, and to offer my body to be burned as a martyr, without the pure motive of love, I would gain nothing of value.
“Love is large and incredibly patient. Love is gentle and consistently kind to all. It refuses to be jealous when a blessing comes to someone else. Love does not brag about one’s achievements nor inflate its own importance. Love does not traffic in shame and disrespect, nor selfishly seek its own honor. Love is not easily irritated or quick to take offense. Love joyfully celebrates honesty and finds no delight in what is wrong. Love is a safe place of shelter, for it never stops believing the best for others. Love never takes failure as defeat, for it never gives up. Love never stops loving.
“It extends beyond the gift of prophecy, which eventually fades away. It is more enduring than tongues, which will one day fall silent. Love remains long after words of knowledge are forgotten. Our present knowledge and our prophecies are but partial, but when love’s perfection arrives, the partial will fade away. When I was a child, I spoke about childish matters, for I saw things like a child and reasoned like a child. But the day came when I matured, and I set aside my childish ways.
“For now, we see but a faint reflection of riddles and mysteries as though reflected in a mirror, but one day we will see face-to-face. My understanding is incomplete now, but one day I will understand everything, just as everything about me has been fully understood. Until then, there are three things that remain: faith, hope, and love—yet love surpasses them all. So above all else, let love be the beautiful prize for which you run.” (1 Corinthians 13:1-13 TPT)(2)
Pray with me:
Father, You have loved us with an everlasting love. When we were still Your enemies, You loved us. We marvel and say along with our brother, Paul, “He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not also with Him freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32). Thank You, Father, for not sparing Your Son.
As we focus on the power of Christ’s sacrifice today, not only do we celebrate forgiveness and cleansing, we remember that we were also given His nature, His mind. We are righteous, overcomers, warriors, servants, givers, and lovers. And the greatest of these is love. We remember this as we take Communion today, and pledge to allow Christ’s love to - as Paul stated - make us its prisoner (2 Corinthians 5:14). (Take the bread)
And now, we take the cup. As we drink the juice, we remember Your passionate love of people, Your Abba nature, Your giving heart. And we desire to be like You. Awaken Your nature of love in us, that we might love the unlovely, even our enemies. As we drink this cup today, we remember love. (Drink the juice)
Today’s post was contributed by our daughter, Sarah Weinberg. Sarah is the mother of our two wonderful grandchildren whom she homeschools. She and her husband, Blake, work alongside us at DSM and make their home in beautiful South Carolina.
Click on the link below to watch the full video.
1. Quin Sherrer and Ruthanne Garlock, God Be With Us - a Daily Guide to Praying for Our Nation (Grand Rapids, MI: FaithWords Publishing, 2001).