This is today’s Lent Project devotional. I just read it. Wow. I needed to share it because you should read it too.
Just as I have loved you.
These words make new the ancient command to love. Jesus spoke them on the heels of washing feet and on the verge of ascending to the cross. Love like me.
Serve one another. Lay aside your outer trappings and kneel so you can reach repellant places others shun. Risk soiling yourself with the muck encrusted on a precious soul on their journey to the Passover feast. Take up the towel remembering your slavery and liberation.
And love anticipating death. Expect to encounter evil within your brother. Absorb and neutralize it, remembering we wage war not against flesh and blood but against the darkness. Go again to the one who abandoned or disowned you in deepest need. Forgive and pray for those who betrayed and brutalized you.* Bless and do not curse. In love, take up your cross.
“If anything other than love could do it / I’d have done it already / and left the hardest for last.”
I can’t love like that. I avoid any appearance of inferiority. Abandonment and betrayal are deaths so unbearable I retreat at the merest hint of their approach. And to acknowledge I, too, walk with grimy feet, regularly require cruciform love, and must rely on God’s grace extended through other human vessels—my flesh revolts.
I cannot even love Jesus the way he loves me. He is the true Friend who deserves the laying down of my life. Yet while I jump with Peter to declare my willingness, I choose my safety over his costly Way when the moment arrives. Loving like Jesus requires a miracle. So, he gives us one.
Just as I have loved you.
I am loved. Practicing love requires knowing myself beloved—with a knowing born of embodied experience and intimate familiarity. Only when I know myself boundlessly desired can I brave rejection. Only when I know myself cradled can I embrace the one who has harmed me. Only when I know compassion in my filth can I wash another’s feet. And only when I know myself accepted can I humbly admit my constant need for grace from my brother.
For indeed, the call to practice Christlike love begins with the ordinary, often-disappointing disciples who share his table (including those we would not have chosen). They will know us by our love. By the way we serve, bear with, forgive, honor, and repent. The way we practice patience and kindness, generosity and humility, grace and justice. The way we protect, trust, hope, and persevere in a dysfunctional family of still-sinful people. This is the gritty training ground for loving the wider world.
And yet, before beginning this work of love, I must enter the sabbath rest of receiving my belovedness. I must be immersed in the Father’s pleasure. I must receive solid, trustworthy names given me by Jesus, names the Spirit testifies to when I fail to live into them. I must lean my head against my Lord’s chest, listening to his heartbeat for me, for the world.
This is what he’s asking you to do. Receive Love. And then, respond in love.
— Hannah Williamson
Alumna of Biola University 2018
Torrey Honors College
Assistant Montessori Teacher and Freelance Writer