Admittedly, the title of this chapter surprised me. I had learned that there were two greatest commandments, love God and love others. And though it is a struggle, because imperfect me cannot love anyone perfectly, it is not hard to love God when we know what He has done for us. Loving others is trickier, but once we come to terms with the idea that what He did for us on the cross, He did for others as well, we get a clue that He loves them, too, and if we love Him, we should be loving to our neighbors for His sake.
(Any of you have a friend of the family who your mom or dad just loved, but gets on your nerves sometimes, yet you are kind to them and solicitous of their needs for mom and dad's sake? Kind of like that sometimes, I think...)
The the third greatest commandment as included by Mr. Stearns is the one given to us by Christ before He ascended into Heaven.
Matthew 28: 16-20 16Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[a] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
Mr. Stearns then tells this amazing story of a man in Cambodia who became a Christian because of the work people from World Vision were doing in his village. It was because the man wanted to know WHY they were doing all this that he stormed at them and asked, and they gently told him. Because of all he had been through, he was distrustful of these strangers coming to help his village (who could blame him), and came at them rather accusingly, but they gently told him and presented him with a Bible, and later brought him to a pastor who could better teach him who Christ is and help him become a Christian.
What impressed me in this story is how instead of becoming defensive and burnt out by his outburst, it was like the moment they were waiting for... How often have I been rebuffed by someone I meant to help, and instead of seeing them as an injured soul in need of gentleness and Christ, I allowed myself to feel hurt instead, and backed off, protecting myself? How often have I feared reaching out because I did not want to be rebuffed again?
Well. No turning back now... There are no do overs for the past. That is why we read these books; to learn from them and improve upon ourselves. I have much to improve upon. And yes, I know that He loves me anyway. I thank God for that!
More on Chapter 5 of this book is linked here at my friend Jason's blog.