Dearest (in)courage sisters,
I’ve been thinking and praying about you, about this space, and I want to pull up my virtual chair and have a community heart-to-heart today. Are you with me?
There are a lot of things we could dedicate this year to as individuals and collectively as an (in)courage sisterhood. A list of good and worthy goals immediately starts scrolling through my mind in typical January fashion: get healthier, be stronger, start running or run longer, build a business, chase a dream, save more, give more, be bolder in our faith, grow deeper friendships, seek forgiveness and give it freely, minimize social media and watch less TV . . . just to name a few. Are these things vying for your focus and attention too?
There’s nothing wrong with anything on this list. But as I’ve been praying over (in)courage and where we’re headed in 2020, these good pursuits begin to dim when I start thinking about one Person and what He said.
Jesus pretty much gave His friends the ultimate “new year, new life, make-a-difference, live-with-purpose” vision, all summed up in this simple statement: Love one another.
Here’s the balance of what Jesus said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35 NIV)
Paul fleshes it out a little more in Colossians when he writes,
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”
Colossians 3:12-14 (NIV)
Over everything, put on love.
If I’m really honest, sometimes this feels like too tall an order when I look at the world around us. The problems are so deep and the divisions are so wide. The pain of this world is searing, the brokenness jarring, and we live in a culture that promotes rhetoric and finger-pointing — even (especially?) in Christian circles and “righteous” comment threads — and I’m often hard-pressed to find anything that resembles love.
Do you feel the weight of the world’s woes and foes too?
But Jesus knew that would be the case. He knew that love was the mark that would set His friends apart, and as His followers, we’ve got to relearn what true love looks like. “By this” — love — “everyone will know that you are my disciples.”
So here’s the deal, friends: If we’re going to spend time sharing stories and life in this online space, if we’re going to go first with our struggles, dive into Scripture, support each other in prayer, and cling to hope together, shouldn’t the point be to grow in love? Let’s be resolute about living out the resolution that came straight from the mouth of Jesus.
Love over all is what Jesus was all about.
But why and how can we actually put on love over all and love others well?
As I write, I’ve got three kids sick with the flu and that’s so small compared to cancer and job loss and chronic illness and the list goes ever-on of the real and searing ways people in our community are suffering. How do we give when we’re wrung out ourselves? And when someone cuts you off on the freeway and steals your Costco parking space, and a coworker misunderstands you and your spouse or friend betrays you, and you turn on the news and party lines and heartbreaking injustice just might suck the last breath out of you, love can feel like a garment that’s too itchy and tight to possibly put on! Am I the only one?
Yet the simple words from 1 John 4:19 pack a powerful spirit-gut punch: “We love because he first loved us.” Look back at the passage from Colossians, and we see it there too! We put on love because we are dearly loved by God.
We cannot love out of obligation, bitterness, resentment, or judgment. We cannot love for the sake of morality or shiny appearances. We cannot love based on an agenda or to bully our way toward change. We can only love by knowing deep in our beloved daughter souls that God first loved us! In our weakness and depravity, in our poor choices, bad moods, and other-inflicted wounds, God loves us wholly, completely, without cost or condition.
If you haven’t picked up on it by now, Love Over All is our 2020 (in)courage anthem song. Our heartbeat. The conviction to which we will set our minds and feet.
The only possible way we can claim “Love Over All” without it being a trite cliché is to first recognize how God’s love and Christ’s sacrifice is over all our lives. Then, out of joy and gratitude, we can turn our hearts, actions, and attitudes to put on love above all else. Only then can God’s love work in us and through us and mark us as people who know Jesus.
Let’s be daughters who know our Savior so well we start looking more and more like Him.
This is what we will set our hearts on this next year at (in)courage. We will think through, wrestle with, talk openly about, and boldly (courageously!) live out Christ’s call to LOVE OVER ALL. Our friends at DaySpring are committed to this too! So you’ll be seeing exciting new content and resources from DaySpring as well that will help foster this conversation and encourage our hearts as we press into Love Over All.
Each month we will explore a different aspect of Love Over All. We don’t expect it to be all Christian glitter rainbows and tidy bows. We’re not after checking more boxes off a spiritual list. We’re after spiritual transformation for ourselves and others that only Jesus can bring!
We are ready to come to this (in)courage table every day with stories from our beautifully real and unshiny lives. We’re ready to discover together in fresh ways what it means to Love Over All.
So what does this mean for you, dear (in)courage sister? Love Over All isn’t a just content plan we’re offering but an invitation for purposeful living. Are you in?
Here are three things you can do to say Yes to Love Over All:
- Meditate: Write John 13:33-34 and Colossians 3:12-14 on index cards or sticky notes. Post them where you’ll see them. Read and pray through them daily.
- Identify: Name one thing in your life that’s keeping you from putting on love. (If you’re really brave, share it below in the comments or with someone you trust.)
- Invite: Ask a friend to join you in choosing Love Over All this year! Share this post on social media and use hashtags #LoveOverAll and #inLoveOverAll all year long! Because we’re always better together.
And one last thing I would say if I could reach through this screen and across a real table is this: You are so very loved, friend — by God above and your (in)courage sisterhood right here.
Let's be resolute about living out the resolution that came straight from the mouth of Jesus: Love one another. #loveoverall #inloveoverall -@beckykeife: Click To Tweet