Having just come off of Easter weekend, thoughts continue to swirl regarding events of millennia past. A man lived, truly lived, enshrouded in compassion. Kneeling in the dust he pulled a used woman to her feet and instilled worth and purpose. Stepping aside from vital tasks at hand, he confronted another woman whose faith brought her to merely touch his clothing for life giving restoration. Risking health and well being, he engaged and embraced the diseased and outcast. Berating his often agenda-minded followers, he instructed them to put aside the scholarly and bring forward the children who simply desired to bask in the affection of One with whom they felt safe to play and be as children should.
This same compassion caused him to weep over a city and a people central to so many of his Father's pleadings and passions, yet so far from His heart. This compassion fueled a holy rage against abusing racketeers that moved him to physically and violently expel them from His "Father's house". This compassion, led him, an innocent man, to take on the mantle of criminal, villain, despised and detested. Ultimately, this compassion led him to an agony filled and excruciating death.
Some would ask "Was it worth it?".
He would answer "...as payment to restore you, absolutely. Over, and over and over again."
Yet once was all that was needed to usher all of us from under the impenetrable veil of separation from a Holy God and into His family. And at the heart of this miraculous compassion is an even more miraculous love which has not only been passed to you and I, but has been freely given with the expectation that we will, likewise, freely offer in kind to others.
"This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends."
John 15:12, 13 ESV
But for most of us, this is a high price to ask. We acknowledge this commandment (notice it is not requested but commanded) on a cerebral level, but to put feet to motion in the manner that was actually lived out 2000 years ago...I have often found modern reasonings why this is an impossibility to carry out to the fullest.
"I might offend if I point out their need..."
"I know of a ministry/program that deals with their specific woes - I'll point them there..."
"I don't have the answers they're searching for..."
"I've never been down their path/walked in their shoes - I can't relate..."
"It seems dangerous or unsafe..."
Yet we have been commanded. How do we ignore such a polarizing word in the midst of this verse? How do we embrace our fears and develop a passion for that which He was passionate? How much of ourselves are we to sacrifice? What it really boils down to is what is the worth of another and are we willing to pay it? And what is the currency?
It is the same exchange that it was when He walked this plane: compassion fueled by love. In fact, we are admonished to put it on like daily clothing in Colossians 3:12 .
"But what of the cost? Will there be loss?"
That is the beauty of love's inherent power - true love, unblemished and pure, embraces loss in exchange for the benefit of another. It's His cosmic model. Yet the gain far outweighs any tangible that can be grasped in tightly protective hands. Nothing of lasting value can be clenched or horded.
Lyrics from a song entitled "What It Costs" by the band Switchfoot contain the following:
But love deals the currency of loss
Don't ever forget what it cost....
...Our story needs the pain that we outgrew
Yeah you can't call it love until you've lost
If you love someone this is what it cost
And love does cost. It costs your insecurities. It costs your prejudices. It costs your biases. It costs your pride. It costs you financially and it costs your time. In short, it costs everything of you, even your life...
This is price of Heaven; both a heaven gained as our lives touch others to transform and a Heaven gained as we take up our cross and follow. It is why we are never promised an escape from the pain and the storms of this fallen sphere, but rather given countless opportunities to engage like souls who, also, have been broken. Our lives are to be ruled by this exchange. God himself identifies His person with it. Bypassing the baubles and failing trinkets of this temporal, it is the commerce of the eternal.
It is a simple currency called love.