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Not sure when I felt the nudge as it came softly at first. So softly, it was easy to miss. Or perhaps ignore.

Then it became louder, “You need to love more. Love better.”

I had seen the book mentioned everywhere but did not feel compelled to read it. Not yet anyway. But as the nudge became louder and louder, I ordered the book.

This is not a book review. I picked up the book because the Lord had convicted me of not loving well. It’s been four months of reading and rereading the book and examining my heart.

The world is a hard place, and getting harder with the passing of days. Society is losing its ability to discuss issues without becoming heated. We immediately want punishment or to “teach a lesson” but often with the absence of love and kindness. We cast blame on the other side.

These issues of race, gender, religion, economics, and even politics have always been, and sadly, always will be with us in this world. They are ugly and painful;  horrific and never should have occurred.

In Scripture we find the people, God’s chosen people, repeating a cycle of remembering and forgetting over and over. Therein lies the wisdom and exhortation of God to us today:

“O my people, listen to my instructions. Open your ears to what I am saying, for I will speak to you in a parable. I will teach you hidden lessons from our past – stories we have heard and known, stories our ancestors handed down to us.” (Psalm 78:1-3, NLT)

It is in the telling of the stories that we will be motivated to obey God.

But if we forget any part of our history, or do not teach it to our children, we are only destined to repeat these horrible cycles once again. We will not be any the better for our awareness and knowledge. We need to remember our mistakes, yet not let them define us. We learn from them without letting them become oppressive, binding us to anger and hatred.

“For he issued his laws to Jacob, he gave his instructions to Israel. He commanded our ancestors to teach them to their children, so the next generation might know them – even the children not yet born – and they in turn will teach their own children.”
(Psalm 78:5-6, NLT)

No society can nor should, in my opinion, erase its history. We need to learn from it, in order to become better people. People who can love and work towards making life a little bit better. And even more so as Christians. Scripture tells us we will be known by our love. We should be people that stand apart from this harsh society because we bear the mark – like a tattoo if you would – of Christ’s love.

It is in the remembering that we will be motivated to love one another.

“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love one each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” (John 13:34-35, NLT)

When we look at others, may we not see black or white, male or female, a political party, or a religious affiliation. May we see a person needing a smile, a kind word, a small gesture, or the love of Jesus.

Nothing continues to teach me this lesson than a trip into Dana Farber Cancer Institute. Every person there is with a family member who is suffering or struggling with a cancer. And guess what? We all want the same outcome – health and life. We all help one another, offer words of encouragement and hope. No matter the race, the age, the gender, the religion, or the economic status.

Should the issues in the world open our eyes and make us want “justice”? Absolutely. But I pray for God to help us guard our hearts that we would not be filled with anger or frustration towards those who think differently than ourselves. May the mind of Christ grow in us so that perhaps, someone would see Christ in us.

“So each generation should set its hope anew on God, not forgetting his glorious miracles and obeying his commands.” (Psalm 78:7, NLT)

Change begins within us and as we are transformed into the image of Jesus.
I pray it starts with me.
And you.