“Now these three remain--faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
- 1 Corinthian 13:13
A couple of recent events have left me asking the question: where do you find your identity? Recently I was walking out of a store near my home when I was roughly pulled aside by two guys, who I quickly learned were FBI agents. A glance around told me I was in the middle of something. Then two very handsome kids, maybe 19-20 years old, walked out of that store and were immediately overwhelmed by more than a dozen cops, FBI agents, and plain-clothes NYPD officers. I overheard a cop say to one of the kids “this is going to screw up your future for the rest of your life.” The young kid sneered and with the most derisive glance, shot back...”future? I never had a future.”
It turns out that these poor kids were being recruited to pass counterfeit bills. The cops told me that more than 15 other kids had also just been arrested for passing bogus money. I later discovered that a foreign group was responsible for initiating the operation.
I heard it said that poverty creates strange alliances. Actually so does greed, power, avarice, and one’s own ego. Finding one’s identity in the midst of any culture is a challenge. My friends who work and live on the Navajo reservation in Arizona tell me that young people are committing suicide at an alarming rate. I asked why. What are the underlying issues that breed this despair? My friend said without hesitation “they have no purpose and no identify.” I wondered....maybe they don’t feel loved? But it’s not that simple, of course.
My prayer is that offering love to one another can bring a ray of hope. Plato said “love tries to make one out of two and heal the wound of human nature.” Carl Jung said “where love rules, there is no will to power, and where power predominates, love is lacking.” Our truest understanding of love comes from the cross—God’s love for the world revealed through his son Jesus’s sacrifice on our behalf. During this season of Lent, let us reflect on Jesus’s command: “As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” When we enter into this mystery of God’s love, we will find our true identity.
Love seeks no purpose or cause outside itself. Love never ends. In my entire life as a follower of a Jesus, I discovered early-on that love is where we fulfill our deepest desire and find our true identity. Our identify is found not in religious ideas, denominations, or dogma, but through the love of God for us revealed in Jesus, who calls us by name and thereby shows us who we really are—a child of God, beloved, unique, and having purpose. To love someone is to have no agenda for them, but rather to love them for their own sake.
Love allows us to discover our deepest identity, fulfill our eternal longing, and find our hope in Jesus. My dear friend Father William put it this way: “Love alone is sufficient in and of itself. It is its own end, its own satisfying endeavor, its own satisfaction, its own joy. Love never ends.”
Through Christ Jesus, we discover we are created for the purpose to love as we have been loved. If I am really honest I find myself incredibly sad and helpless as I still think about those two young kids busted for passing counterfeit bills. If I could only show them that they are lovable and beloved by God. I won’t see them again, but I can actively pray that God will mercifully and miraculously intervene. And let’s ask ourselves, to whom can we show love right now.... before it is too late?
Praying for all of us to be an attraction to the love of our Lord Jesus. B.J. Weber
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