Spotlight 04/2018: Being constant in love
Anybody can be faithful when things are going well. But what if we lack even the most basic needs of life? District Apostle John L. Kriel of South Africa asks that we show determination especially when life is challenging.
When the Chief Apostle shared with us the motto for 2018: “Faithful to Christ”, he also mentioned four examples of how this faithfulness can be practically exercised. We can be faithful to Christ by following His example, by being constant in love even in difficult times, by serving Him faithfully, and by keeping our promises. We should take time to think about each one of these, and I am convinced that we will find a wealth of spiritual food to feed our faith.
What struck me personally was the reference to being faithful to Christ by being constant in love even in difficult times. This triggered a memory that immediately flashed into my mind. As a young Bishop, a mother asked to see me a few weeks before Christmas. She was terminally ill and had one request: Would I please tell her seven-year-old daughter that she would not be coming home from hospital. She felt emotionally incapable of doing this herself.
This was not easy for me, but I agreed. When I met her young daughter, she was excited because she had just passed first grade. All she was waiting for was for her mom to return home from hospital so that they could enjoy a blessed Christmas. At that point, I had to share the sad news: “Mommy is not coming home. Jesus is coming to fetch her!”
The weight of this statement moved both of us to tears. After wrestling with this difficult circumstance, her response still rings in my ears today: “Bishop, I understand, but I will still love Jesus.” Jesus was about to take from her the person she loved most, yet she was prepared to remain faithful in her love for Him.
In John 15: 9 we read: “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love.” We see that Jesus is very sure that His Father loved Him. He is sure about this loving relationship even though
- He was blamed despite not being guilty of doing any wrong.
- many people hated Him because He did what God wanted Him to do.
- He was betrayed by someone whom He loved.
He told His disciples that He loved them with the same love as His Father loved Him. And then He asked of them: “Abide in My love.” Jesus was asking them to continue to love Him even when they come across troubled circumstances. This is part of the message attached to our motto for 2018: We need to love Him unconditionally as He loves us.
Our faithfulness in love is proven in difficult circumstances, because it is mostly easy to love when everything is going well. When we have slept in a cosy bed, in a warm and safe room in a secure house, and then enjoy a good breakfast with mom, dad, brothers and sisters, it is easy to thank and praise God. Many however do not have this. Are we still able to show our love to Jesus when we have none of the basic needs in life?
May we be determined that, especially in the year that lies ahead, we will not let the circumstances of life we may encounter lessen our love for Jesus!
Photo: Oliver Rütten
John Leslie Kriel