As we are out and about with The Torch and Torch 180, Sarah and I meet with a lot of people who are interested in learning more about what we do, and, usually, why we do it. What we do has a pretty straightforward explanation - it's not hard to describe the act of taking out the food truck or instructing students. The why can be more challenging for people to understand. We were recently in a conversation with someone, and we spent probably a half hour or more talking about how we wanted to love people unconditionally with the food truck and our classes. We explained how we felt God calling us to reach out to people with love - and no strings attached. We shared how repeatedly God has answered prayers and removed impossible obstacles. And how deeply we believe people need and deserve to be loved and accepted.
As we were winding up the conversation, we were asked, "Where does Jesus fit in all of this?" I have to admit, not much leaves me speechless, but I was dumbfounded by that question. It took me a minute to regroup and I think I stuttered out something about how we are always willing to pray for the needs of the people we are privileged to meet. But I have thought about that conversation a lot recently.
I'm afraid of a Christianity that no longer believes love is enough. Jesus Himself said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” A long time ago, when I first began to explore the Christian world, there was controversy at my church about the New International Version Bible, which was gaining popularity over the King James Version. One night, a gentleman was explaining to me why he believed true Christians only used the King James Version - he said, "If it was good enough for Jesus, it's good enough for me." Even someone brand new to faith like I was saw the flaws in that statement. But, Jesus is the One who tells us to love. As far as I'm concerned, the statement fits this situation - if it's good enough for Jesus, it's good enough for me.
Sometimes I think our human desire to categorize, organize and control is taking over our ability to follow God in faith. We want to know how many people were in church, how many people attended our event, how many people signed up, how many people were converted... and on and on and on. Then we can easily compare success and failure. But if faith is supernatural and surreal, we can't fit it into categorized boxes. Sure, we love hearing feedback from people who feel loved by us, but we don't discount the fact that there are a lot of people out there who need community, need to feel loved, or are just watching us express our caring for others - people who may never tell us. We just have faith that God is using love to touch lives. We have faith that He can do that.
Faith and love go hand in hand, because people are very skeptical when others say they are doing something out of love. They are skeptical when we change the status quo, because the status quo can fit neatly into our box of understanding, whereas categorizing things that happen by faith is like trying to hold onto fog. Since people don't believe that others are really trying to act out of love, it takes faith sometimes to keep going.
When people ask "where does Jesus fit into all of this?" it can be discouraging, but through faith we keep on going. And so many unexpected and supernatural blessings come our way - our encouragement is not of this world.
It seems like Christians have become comfortable attaching conditions and strings to love. If we try hard to love others unconditionally, we can't put conditions or strings or expectations of a reaction from them on our love. Loving people unconditionally can only happen when we are willing to go the extra mile in reaching out and encouraging and helping others without expecting ANYTHING in return. They don't have to become just like us. They don't have to attend a certain church, or sign onto a specific political affiliation. They don't have to treat us with love. They don't have to give us money. They don't have to listen to us talk about God.
They just have to be human. And we just have to love them as they are in faith that God, in His supernatural way, is capable of doing whatever it is He is going to do in their lives. We get criticized for that. We get slammed for it. And yet, we are continuously blessed in surreal ways.
We are commanded to love. And it is enough.