Tag Archives: love your neighbour

What I Learnt When The Syrians Risked It All

I have wanted to write about the Syrian refugees for the longest time, but until now, words have escaped me. I have experienced a roller-coaster of emotions as the media decided their story was worth daily front page coverage. My heart wept as children’s bodies were washed up on the shore. and my blood boiled as UK politicians failed to act, before enraging many further, with statements that seemed to disregard the turmoil Syrian civilians have lived through for years, as they tried to justify their political inaction. Situations like ‘Europe’s migrant crisis’, force me to re-evaluate my faith and the things I am living for. I don’t know if you felt the same way I did, but I had a fresh realisation that most of my problems are first world problems, which on any scale, are not really problems at all. Some people wake up wondering how they will find enough food to sustain their children for that day, where they will find shelter when it gets dark, in fear that their relatives will get caught in a crossfire. No mater how you look at it, my problems do not compare.
As I’ve watched as thousands more Syrians have crossed country to seek safety, I have felt pretty helpless beyond journeying to Calais with supplies and making donations for the crisis appeal. It’s not that both of those actions are too small or insignificant, I just felt as though I could do more to constantly have people that are living in situations like those in Syria, at the forefront of my mind.

Love your neighbour as you love yourself. Mark 12:31

I had to ask myself some serious questions:
Do I have love for others? Yes

Do I give to charity? Yes

Do I pray for people that are less fortunate then myself? Yes

But have I given people around me and people the kind of love I give myself? No

Have I made the sacrifices for others to succeed in the way that I have made personal success efforts? No

Do I remember the extreme living situations of my neighbours around the world, and have a serious mission to change them? No…Well yes, in the long term sense. I’d like to ultimately work for a charity and put my career expertise to good use, but what good is the long term for people dying every day, glad if they live to see the rest of the year, let alone the 25 years future in which I feel I’m settled enough in my own life to help others.
As Christians we have instruction to feed the poor, clothe those in need and pray for the sick. We cannot wait for the next charity appeal or our next mission trip to acknowledge the stark difference in the quality of life between us and so many around the world. We need to make an effort to change it.
This isn’t about making the largest donation, or giving all your salary to charity. The influx of Syrian refugees has reminded me that I live a life focused on my own development and I don’t give nearly enough thought to ‘the other’ my fellow earthly citizens, as Christ has encouraged I do.
So people struggle everyday, what can we actually do about it?

For some reason prayer is seen as a cop-out, as if calling on God isn’t the most powerful action you could take. I agree that you shouldn’t pray in isolation of actions, but praying is the most important activity you can engage in. Through your prayer God can empower people in close proximity to those you are praying for to help, and can give you the wisdom you need to be effective.
Give what you can

We are encouraged to give what we can when there is an urgent crisis but why don’t we commit to giving what we can persistently. Let’s not allow ourselves to forget the importance of our giving and the difference that our money can make to someone else. I don’t know if you’ve ever participated in the shoebox appeal in which you wrap a shoe box filled with presents that’s sent to children in need worldwide, but recently I watched a promo video for the cause, and was reminded that it is so appreciated by all those that receive a box. Sometimes we can take for granted just how much of a difference our efforts can make. Let’s not grow weary in doing good (Galatians 6:9), and never forget the hope we could be bringing to someone’s life.
Don’t settle for the way things are 

We are so used to the fact that whilst a small minority of people live in 10 bedroom mansions, a large population of people live below the poverty line, we have become desensitised to it. Looking at ourselves in comparison to those who have so much more to spend than us, it is easy to feel as though we are in need ourselves and in our strife for financial success, we forget that the difference between those living in poverty and us is equally vast. If we would just consider how gracious God has been to us, we would never lose perspective on the money we feel we have to be earning and the houses we feel we need to be buying. 
I say all this, not to make you feel guilty for being fortunate or to pressure you to give everything you have away. I merely want to encourage you to live with your neighbour in mind, not just the one living three streets away with the black Ferrari, also the one 3000 miles away struggling to survive.
Love you lots,

For Those Who Don’t Do Love

no love

When I was 12 I decided that I didn’t ‘do’ love. I hadn’t even had my heart broken yet, but the idea that there was this feeling that came over you that meant you were completely infatuated with another person, and wanted to do everything in your power to make them happy, seemed a little far-fetched to me. You may have a more valid reason for opting out. Anyone who has had their heartbroken or has had to listen to the tale of some poor lad/lass that has, and can see the pain heartbreak causes, is faced with the dilemma of whether they want to avoid that squishy, warm, passionate feeling A.K.A being in love with someone, or still buy in to the Hollywood fairytale that awaits us all. It goes  like this:

Boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love, boy proposes, girl says yes, they ride off into the sunset and live happily ever after.

Those of us who aren’t living in a Disney Daydream will know that life just isn’t  that simple. The real life story has so many speed bumps and 3 point turns on the journey to perfect family life, many lose interest in the appeal that love once had. We allow the speed bumps to bring us to a complete halt and decide that we don’t DO love. I know it’s ungrammatical and sounds a lot like ‘I’m a woman scorned, all guys are the problem’ but opting out of the hope to fall in love is a decision many have made as a protection mechanism.

It becomes a bit problematic when you accept Christ. Now your whole life is love centred (God is love and our lives revolve around him, kind of like the planets-sun relationship in the solar system) and you’re supposed  to walk in love. The problem is that we’ve let Hollywood give us a definition of what it means to ‘be in love’ and show love to others. I have a secret for you: What we ascribe ‘being in love’ to be, doesn’t actually have any real importance when we’re thinking about the love of Christ that we’re supposed to be showing others. Love is a noun and a verb but I think the doing word aspect of love has become side-lined by the attention that simply being in love on this island called love, is getting.

If you love me, keep my commands. John 14:15

Here Jesus is telling us the duty we have when we claim to love him. There is action involved in love. Lots of us ‘fall in love’ with Jesus and then spend all our time after that point deciding if we fancy obeying God in the various aspects of our lives. This island of love idea that we’ve created, where everyone who ‘loves’ God arrives and just stays there is based on the fact that we feel that being love is a state of mind, a feeling that has the words warm and fuzzy attached to it, but this isn’t  what God has depicted love to be.  Other translations of John 14:15 say, ‘If you love me, you WILL obey my commands. There’s just no way to avoid the doing aspect attached to love. It’s nice to fantasize about what it will be like to BE in love but being in love is expressed through what you DO. There is little point in the feeling of love without acting upon it. Imagine if John 3:16 said, ‘For God so loved the world that whenever he thought about the people on Earth his heart filled with warmth towards them and he gave them loving looks from heaven whilst watching them all die on Earth and perish in hell. I know you’re thinking ‘hey now Dani, that’s a bit harsh’, but that is how ridiculous it is to diminish love to being this ‘nice’ feeling in our hearts that causes us to look fondly towards people.

For God so loved that he gave his one and only son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

Our whole lives, and the promise of heaven that awaits us after death is based on the fact that God wasn’t merely IN love, he DID love. What would it look like to follow his example of doing love?

Last week I was convicted of my lack of love for God. Telling God I loved him had become some kind of cover up for the fact that my actions weren’t a reflection of the love that was supposed to be in my heart. Maybe you can relate, I’ve listed a few warning signs below.

God, I haven’t read your word and meditated on it day and night but I love you.

Lord, I don’t even think about praying for someone other than myself but I love you.

 Father, I just can’t be bothered to re-arrange my plans so that I have time to invest into the lives of others but I love you.

Jesus, I don’t care if other people come to know you before they die but I love you.

What kind of love is that?

Just because we feel strong positive feelings towards God, doesn’t mean that we love him. You don’t arrive at a place called ‘loving God’ and hang out there long enough so when you need to ask him for something you don’t feel like you’re using God. We mustn’t forget that loving God is a doing thing.

Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since  the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.  Matthew 25:34-36

Jesus is telling the disciples about what will happen when he comes back again. If we’re including ourselves as part of the group of people that are inheriting the kingdom of God, then we should also be the people that are feeding those who don’t have any food and helping those in need. All of these things are simply what Christ expects of us. People criticise sermons that are about ‘how we can show love’ for not being ‘deep’ enough but whilst everyone is finding intricate new ways to chase after their blessings, who is carrying the shopping bags of the elderly and driving people home that are too unwell for public transport? We can’t be preaching about a God who loves the world, meanwhile our actions only reflect the love we have for ourselves.

This week I was thinking about what it means to love God with all my heart, all my mind, and all my soul and was left pondering the last time I’d actively shown someone love. As Christians there’s no opting out of doing love. There’s no denying that we have been blessed with the love of God, it’s worth thinking about what we can do to bless others with love. We can do better than lip service, let’s love God with our actions from here on out.

Love you all,

Dani xxxxxxxxx