Recently I was smacked right between the eyes with a pretty brutal reality: sometimes I think Jesus loves me more than He loves others.
I don’t intentionally feel this way. Actually, I didn’t even realize I felt this way. But there I was, sitting and reflecting on the death of my Savior, and all I could think of was that He died for me. Now, that’s not an unhealthy mindset in and of itself. We need to be reminded of the individuality of Jesus’ love, and the fact that our individual sins sent Him to the cross. I need to remember that I can be forgiven, regardless of what I’ve done, because Jesus died for me. But I can’t let “Jesus loves me” be the theme song of my life without also realizing that Jesus loves everyone else, too.
You see, sometimes I am so caught up in how much Jesus loves me that I forget Jesus loves others. I praise Him for His grace and the blood that pardons me, yet I look out and see people who irritate me. People who seem like they aren’t trying. People who should know better and do better, but they just don’t. And I get discouraged, but it’s because I forget that Jesus loves them. I forget that He died for them. I forget that just as He wants a relationship with me, He wants one with them.
So often, too often, my spiritual life revolves around myself. I’m constantly trying to be better. I’m constantly trying to dig into the scriptures and expose parts of myself that don’t align with its teachings. Again, these aren’t unhealthy things to do in and of themselves. But a part of being a disciple of Christ is putting self in last place. It’s constantly seeing others as recipients of God’s love and not just myself. It’s constantly seeking to show God’s love to them – to encourage them to be better because of Whose they claim to be. It’s not just about me and getting me to heaven. It’s about showing Jesus to everyone. Showing them that Jesus loves them – He doesn’t just love me.
I like to be hard on myself. I like to find ways to be better. I am constantly striving to pattern my life after Christ, and I know I have a long way to go. But I can’t let my drive for being the best possible disciple I can keep me from looking out and seeing others. Others who need the love of Jesus shown to them, maybe for the first time. Others who need the patience and compassion of Jesus exhibited to them. Others who need attention for whatever reason. And when I will reach out to these people, when I will recognize that Jesus loves them and has called me to reach out to them, then I will truly be the disciple I need to be.
Those who seek to be first in the kingdom should be servants. Too often I overlook the servant part and just strive to be better in the kingdom. But that mindset needs to change. Praise God that He loves me! I am unworthy, but I am so thankful. I am also thankful, though, that God loves everyone. And I am humbled that He has entrusted me to take His word and His love to other people to make sure they know how much He loves them, too.
May we all be a people who look outside of ourselves. People who aren’t so focused on ourselves that we forget to help those around us. People who love like Jesus loves and serve like Jesus served. People ready to empty themselves for the cause of Christ. People who are truly committed to “denying self” and taking up our crosses. I know I need a lot of work, but I pray this can help me keep others at the forefront of my mind and not just myself.