I was born and raised in a Christian home with parents who brought me to church and Sunday School every week.
I had heard stories from the Bible and about Jesus from a young age. I grew up attending Christian schools from kindergarten all the way to secondary school.
But it was only at the age of 17 that I began the journey of making my faith my own.
One thing I knew was that we were called to love our neighbours as ourselves, to love our enemies and to love others as God has loved us.
This I found hard to do, when I heard some comments passed around in class when there were no teachers around and everyone felt that it was safe to make known their displeasure with whichever teacher had gotten on their nerves.
- Ms Tan is such a b****.
- I can’t stand Mr Lee sia, always….
These comments were made by my non-Christian as well as Christian classmates. Hearing them made me judge them internally and I found it hard to love them from and in my heart.
On the surface, I appeared friendly and cordial to them, but I knew deep inside I held judgement and pride.
More than that, I had expected more from my fellow Christians. It made me question the fact that they called themselves Christians and went to church.
Weren’t they supposed to live out Christlike values? To be set apart?
I found myself holding my peers accountable to these things like I was better than them. It was as if just because I didn’t badmouth or gossip about my teachers, I was automatically a better person.
I didn’t genuinely love my peers and that was something I struggled with and wrestled with God over.
Over the next several months, I would pray: “God, how do you love like you do? How do you love the people who are so hard to love?
“I’m not you, I don’t understand and I won’t be able to love like you do. But Lord, help me to love others like you have called me to, Father.”
Then came His response: I was alone in class during recess one day, once again praying and asking God that same prayer when I heard God audibly say: “Brina, I love these people”.
In that moment, I felt such an outpouring of God’s grace and love for His people!
I just needed to know that God loves them. That was enough reason for me to do the same.
It was only a moment but it left such an impact and impression on me and my heart. I felt like a weight and burden had been lifted off of me. It made me realise I had been trying to love my peers on my own and in my own strength.
Whenever I recall that statement, I get goosebumps and my heart is filled with so much love. The tears just want to flow because our God is so good and loving.
After that, I reflected: “If my God loves these people, who am I to judge and withhold love from them?” I realised I didn’t need to understand in order to love, I just needed to know that God loves them. That was enough reason for me to do the same.
That was the point where all the teachings and verses about loving others became a reality to me, something I understood in my heart.
This is definitely not to say that I don’t still struggle with loving others; I simply struggle less than I used to. The experience made me slower to anger, hate and judgement.
Where before I looked at others and questioned them and their actions, now, I look at people and see that this is someone my God loves.
The love God has poured over me and into my heart has enabled me to love others from the overflow of that. We will never be able to love others without God, because He is love.
Loving others outside of Christ is a futile effort because we do not have an infinite ability to love from our own hearts. Only when we have experienced Christ’s love for ourselves, can we then show that love to those around us.
God sees and hears our weaknesses and struggles. Are we willing to come before Him, to lay it all at His feet and allow the Holy Spirit to change us from the inside out?
- Do you find you are prone to anger or judgment?
- Who are some people in your life who might trigger these feelings within you?
- Lift your emotions and failings up to God. Pray for your enemies as well.
- Find a trustworthy brother or sister in Christ to whom you can be accountable for as you strive to be a peacemaker.