Do you love God? Do you love others? If you answered “Yes,” we’re going to see if that’s true.
In 2018, there seems to be no clear origin of love and there is no clear way to love. Most songs, shows, and movies portray love as purely a feeling, usually expressed romantically, and always conditionally. We don’t have a problem with loving things and people, but we definitely have a problem with why and how we love those things.
All people love people and have no issue with loving people. But we do not all love God and people and we have significant issues knowing how those are connected.
And since disabled people are certainly included in the “people” mentioned above, how does love for God lead us to love and befriend the disabled?
The Greatest Commandment
But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
Loving God supremely leads to loving people profoundly.
Does this sound like Christianese? Confusing? A straight-up lie? What this means is that to love the people in our lives in a profound way, the best and only way to do so is by loving God supremely. If we love God with all of our being, a total devotion to God, our love for people will be done rightly, in motive and method.
If our love for people comes from anything but God, our attempts to love will fall short and end up leaving more brokenness and pain. Not knowing the origin of love leads us to love people the way we think is right, which is different for everyone if we are left to define love ourselves. It’s not a huge shock when we continuously see an increasing amount of animosity, anger, pain, and division. To battle this brokenness, there is an impact question to ask: What is the origin of love?
The Bible makes the origin of love clear when it says, “God is love” and that “love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God” (1 John 4:7-8). This means that God is the origin and perfect image of love and that loving people is the overflow of the love that God has given to His followers. God has first loved us and now, because we love Him supremely, we can love people profoundly (1 John 4:19).
To give an example of how this looks and works, look to the design of faith and good works. Our faith is demonstrated and exhibited with an overflow if good works (James 2:18). The same is true of our love for God and our love for people; Our love for God is demonstrated and exhibited with an overflow of love for people. (FYI: faith doesn’t flow from good works and love for God doesn’t flow from love for people).
Remember: some of those people you are commanded to love profoundly are members of the disabled community. And now that we’ve looked at “The Greatest Commandment, ”let’s look at who “The Greatest Beneficiaries” are in your pursuit to love and befriend the disabled.
The Greatest Beneficiaries
“I firmly believe that the greatest beneficiaries of this relationship are not the people among us who have special needs but those of us who get to be in their company.”
Scott Sauls in “Befriend: Create Belonging in an Age of Judgment, Isolation, and Fear”
When most able-bodied, non-disabled people think about the value of loving and befriending the disabled, the common thought is that they’re going to make a big difference through their kind-hearted efforts to get to know people who need their love and friendship. But that’s wrong. The undertone of superiority comes through as a savior complex to the disabled, they are perceived as “less than” and “helpless.” But that’s blind. Loving and befriending the disabled will benefit you more than them and you will have your eyes opened.
As you love and befriend the disabled you will find yourself realizing we are all broken and needy. It’s been said that the brokenness made visible in the life of someone disabled is a mirror of the inner brokenness that we all share. We have fallen short and sinned against God, so seeing our brokenness kills any hint of pride in ourselves. Also, seeing that the visible neediness of the disabled is a direct reflection of all our neediness to be righteous before God. Jesus’ substitutionary atonement makes us righteous before God the Father, so our needs are met to take away our guilt.
You will get a front-row show of how joy in suffering actually can exist. Because having joy in the midst of suffering, for most people, is such a hard thing to comprehend. Disabled Christians can offer you wisdom through this life experience. The most notable thing you will see in the midst of your friendship is that gratitude develops from a sincere depth of faith. Gratitude is expressed for the smallest of thing (ie. breath, consciousness, life itself), everyday, common things (ie. family, friends, etc), and the God-given gifts (ie. faith, grace, love, the Church, etc). All these things are ultimately given by God and you will see gratefulness for the Giver of all things.
The most important thing you will have your eyes opened up to is how the lives of the disabled magnify God and His love for His children. Jesus says in John 10 that He never lets go of His children and no one and nothing can take them away from Him. Disabled believers experience and live through plenty of difficult and challenging things, and God says He will never let go of them in the midst of those hard times. His love for all His children is perfect, unconditional, and unwavering, and His love is made visible to you as you see your disabled loved one and friend battle the brokenness of this world with the love and promises of God. You will see God’s love in new and astounding ways.
So, God is the origin of love, and our love for people comes from an overflow of our love for God. And our love of people includes loving and befriending the disabled.
Do you love God supremely? Do you love people profoundly? If the answer is still “Yes,” are you loving and befriending the disabled?
Because disciples of Jesus befriend the disabled.