Love Changed Him

I will never forget the time I realized why we are commanded to love. It was last October. I attended a conference in Kentucky for Aglow International. Our last evening there, a fraternity held their banquet and dance at our hotel. It was late, but I felt the urge to go minister to these students. My two room mates felt the same desire, so we went to the 10th floor where the majority of students roomed and sat on a bench in front of the elevators. Yes, we had a plan: they could not enter or leave this floor without us smiling genuinely at them.

We sat on that bench for about three hours. Many students were curious why we sat there loving them despite the drunkenness and mockery that some exhibited. While we prayed with many students, I must tell you the story of one student: Jason.

He stood about 5’8 with tan skin, fit arms and a shaved head. He didn’t want to talk with us and he definitely didn’t want us to pray for him. He was blunt about it, to say the least. But he was drawn to us and kept talking with us, though he didn’t understand why.

He came from a difficult background, many things he could not even speak of. His uncle had been murdered. His aunt had been sick and a witness of horrible things in her lifetime. His mom refused to tell him the extent of it all.

Pain. He had a lot of pain. And he refused to believe in our God.

“God does not exist, and even if He did, which He doesn’t, I don’t want anything to do with Him. If there is a heaven or a hell, which there isn’t, I’d want to go to hell.”

We listened to his story. And we spoke truth to him. And believe me—we prayed the entire time! Our conversation lasted nearly 2 hours. He couldn’t walk away from us. He ditched his friends and his date  to talk with us (I don’t feel that bad, she’ll get over it!). He kept saying, “Something is different about you guys; I don’t understand it. Why do you care? Why haven’t you given up on me yet?”

Nearing the end of our conversation, we asked again if we could pray for him—for God to bless him and his family. This time he said yes. My friend reached out and put her hand on his back. Then we prayed.  When we opened our eyes, we looked up at him as he took a step back from us as though overwhelmed.

His entire countenance had changed. Gratitude swept across his face.

Thank you. I don’t know what to say. I will never forget you guys. I have never known anyone who cared so much. If there is a God, I believe I met Him tonight.”

He felt the love of Jesus that night, in a hallway full of drunken students at a hotel in Kentucky.

Friends, we cannot forget the meaning of our existence: to love God and to love others. I doubt I am alone when I say that I never thought of love as a commandment. Maybe an emotion. Or maybe a choice. But seldom a commandment. Jesus told us it was the greatest of all commandments and that we are to not just love as we know how to love, but to love as He loved us.

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this ALL WILL KNOW that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.[1]” Love is our trademark.

And what manner of love He has bestowed upon us! We must love as Jesus loved, who in love, resisted His flesh to the point of death.

So we too must love unto death as we put to death our flesh. Fellow disciples of Jesus, I urge you to study His love, that you may imitate it. Study HIM—and you will know love and you will know how to love.

Then go. Go and be love. Don’t get caught up by the traditions of men, or by the stresses and pressures of this passing life. Don’t get caught up by the attractiveness of earthly possessions, for those attractions will fade. Above all, don’t forget the meaning of your existence, the hope of your life: Jesus. You were made in His image, to reflect His light. His story must be told and it must be told in the way you live your life. Go as you were commissioned and love as you were commanded.

[1] John 13:42-35, NKJV

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