During the US civil rights struggle, lovingkindness required the demolishing of unjust laws, but it also required that individuals take deliberate action. It was not enough for whites to take down the “Whites Only” signs or allow blacks to vote. True welcome and relationship required whites to move toward friendship; and it also required blacks to embrace (again and again) the risk of stepping into friendships within contexts where they had been wronged and excluded. It required love in action.
Jesus is God’s love in action, the embodiment of God’s lovingkindness. Jesus lived as the announcement of the arrival of God’s kingdom—a new reality where everyone (Jew and Greek, rich and poor, powerful and oppressed, lovely and unlovely) would be welcome. God did not offer relationship from a distance, but rather, God came close. God pursued us.
God’s lovingkindness transpired in the cosmic sense (for the whole world), but it also took shape in individual stories. Jesus gathered disciples, calling particular people with particular names. John tells us that Jesus “decided to go to Galilee” where “he found Philip” (John 1:43). You get the sense that Jesus was searching Philip out, that there was some divine bull’s-eye set on him. Then, after his encounter with Jesus, Philip sought out Nathaniel, just as Jesus had sought him. “Come and see,” Philip said to his friend (John 1:46).
This is the way lovingkindness works. It floods us, and then it overflows to others. But first, you have to receive it. You must know you’re welcomed, wanted, and loved. God has called you out of the cold, out of aloneness, out of the place where you have been silenced or dismissed. God has called you out and welcomed you home. Now you are free to invite others to do the same as you have done—to come and see.
NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: Acts 25:1-27
Go back and read the first part of John 1. What other signals do you see of God’s lovingkindness?
Where do you need to receive lovingkindness? Where do you need to give it?