17 As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.”
20 “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”
21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
22 At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.
This was the reading at church today. As I listened to it, I was struck by the order of events. Notice... the man asks JESUS a question about obtaining eternal life, JESUS reminds him of the commandments, and when the man declares that he has in fact followed them, JESUS looks at him and loves him. HE doesn't point out that this man has in fact fallen short. HE doesn't wait to see if the man will follow HIS next set of directions. HE simply loves him. HE looks at him and sees someone who HE loves. Even though the man has fallen, even though he may not recongize that he has fallen, even thought JESUS likely not only knows if and when the man will fall again, but whether or not he will choose to follow HIM, it doesn't matter, JESUS loves him. How many of us can honestly say that we look at those in our lives and simply love them? How many of us look at those around us and mentally list the ways they have disappointed us, or what they can offer to us and how they can or do bless our lives? I know I am too often selfish in my relationships with others. There is that person who doesn't often have a kind word- do I avoid them, or do I love them? What about that one who treats a friend of mine so very poorly that it makes my blood boil- do I confront them, or do I love them? Or the grumpy person who makes me uncomfortable- do I grumble back, or do I love them? JESUS loved. HE loved the tax collector, and the thieves, and the women of ill repute. HE loved them whether they 'looked' like they deserved it or not, and they felt it. HIS love changed their lives, and changed the world. Where would the world be if Saul had not been loved by JESUS? Where would we be if JESUS had not looked past what Saul was doing and seen who he was? A child of GOD with the potential to rock the faith world with the spreading of the word of GOD. Where would the world be if HE hadn't called Zaccheus down from the tree, or 'drawn a line in the sand' when defending the adulterous woman, or sent out HIS power to the woman suffering, or cast the demons from the man possesed, or healed the daughter of Jairus, or brought Lazarus back from the dead; the list goes on. HE changed their lives with HIS love, and because their lives were changed, the world was changed. Who will we affect with our love, if we just look at who someone is, not what they are doing? What change will come in the world because we look at them and love them, showing them the love of our GOD?