Who we are echoes throughout eternity. Our next breath is just the beginning of the next moment; the beginning of another chance to be who we choose to be. Do we consider how who we are affects the people around us? How often do we contemplate how much of an influence we for others?
Often, I forget the expression of living as if today is my last day. I forget that at any moment, my heart could stop beating. We’re spoiled. See, our hearts beat involuntarily—we don’t have to worry about the process, or set an alarm to keep the rhythm going. Many times, we choose to live as if we know tomorrow will come, despite our lack of omniscience. We know not what the next minute will hold, and many of us already have our lives planned up to the second for the next week. Do we leave margins open for life to happen during the “in-betweens” of our plans?
Surely, we cannot plan our next breath, but we can hope for it. We can hope we won’t have to fight for our lives if oxygen doesn’t make its way up through our lungs. In this same way, we can hope our best friend will still be alive tomorrow. We can hope our job is still on the market in the morning. We can hope for so many things… but how much hope do we place in things we’re sure we know, compared to the hope we place in our faith?
As Jesus is my Savior, I believe He controls the oxygen in my lungs. I have hope that He will give me another, and another, and another… because He loves me. And when He decides not to give me another, I have faith that His love for me has taken me away from this place to be with Him where He is. And for every pain in-between those two breaths, I have faith Jesus has a reason for those. Jesus allows pain to give us opportunities to draw near to Him. Some pain feels traumatic and severe; the worse pain we experience, the closer to Christ we can become.
If you get to know me, you’ll notice my smile, my genuine curiosity, and the way it’s hard to make me angry. I don’t get angry over silly things, but it upsets me when you’re driving skills give me the impression that my life is in danger. I’m the kind of man who would rather be reading in quiet or walking on the shore than at a bar or club. The reason I am the way I am is because I treasure simplicity; I admire patience, understanding, and empathy from others. These qualities are qualities I’ve tried my best to adapt to the best of my ability because I think their roles in human life are eternal, and worth echoing throughout history. Truly, I believe these qualities have echoed through history, otherwise they would be faded in definition and mythic in reference. But they aren’t. These characteristics are cherished, refined, and established as precious and rare—because the quality of such characteristics as these are to the human design as gold is to currency. If we want to understand what is worth echoing, we can look at history to see what has prevailed and what has phased out. Certainly, the reason behind the prevalence of evil is that with regards to the sin nature of humankind, evil trumps peace when ego trumps humility.
How often do we try to make a difference in the world? How often is the difference we’re making worth an eternal echo through history? What guidelines must be adhered to in order that the qualities we emanate are of the highest degree? If we look carefully, there is but one category which must be placed above the rest, and that is love. But not just any love—the love of Jesus.
If what we’re doing, saying, and displaying to others isn’t out of love, then what is it worth? What does love look like? Picture a person crying and another embracing them. Picture young men opening the doors for the elderly without having to be asked to. Imagine church members giving of their time to improve their community in ways that won’t put their name on any billboard or check. Think of the people who spend hours at hospice or geriatric care centers where older people who have lost everyone are desperate for connection and company. Think of little children supporting their friend who didn’t make the sports team they tried out for. Support, connection, trust, empathy: LOVE. Love in the name of Jesus.
See, we can love and say it’s because we just have good intentions, but then we must define the source of “good”. And if we cannot, then how can we claim to know what kind of intentions we have? Truly, if we aren’t loving in the name Christ, we are loving conditionally, because there is no foundation for altruism that derives from the self.
If we want to send echoes into history, we must send eternal ripples of love, or the ripples we send will not reach farther than our minds or our egos. Ask how that stranger who looks sad is doing, and offer to pray for them. Open the door for someone even if it takes a few seconds longer than usual for them to get to the door–just to send them the message that they were noticed and validated. Some people are so used to the prideful side of others that these kinds of loving actions will be an absolute shock and a pleasant surprise. For others, with the very pride which the former expect, they will take your act of love for granted, thinking you’re a fool for waiting, rolling their eyes as they take the door from you without so much as a scoff or a muffled “thanks” under the scoff of their exhale. It doesn’t matter, love them anyways. The point is to show others not that you’re a doormat or that you have no confidence, but that you’re humble beyond words. Humility expresses love in ways pride never will.
We can afford to show more humility and to speak from deeper authenticity. We can afford to call our friend who we know had an interview and ask how they’re dealing with it. We can afford to pray for our friends when they’re down, or to celebrate with them during a victory. All of this is Christ-like love. Christ-like love echoes a million times into eternity, and the ripples do not slow or stop because Jesus blesses them as they flow. He blesses us for our faith in Him, and He blesses those whom we extend ourselves to in His name. We only extend a fraction of who we are; yet His power expands the ripple a million times over, because He is love.
Think about these words, and consider the way you put love on display for others. Is it obvious, subtle, unconditional, unexpected, thoughtful, spontaneous, care-free, empathetic—is it authentic? If you’re unsure of your motives, ask yourself what you’ll gain from the experience, and if the answer is joy from another person receiving happiness, even in a small way–I would say go for it. And if anyone approaches you or responds to your love by asking why you do what you do, give Jesus all the credit–but explain it in a way that makes sense to you. The more genuine you are in what you do and say, the more others will be ever so curious about “this Jesus, guy.”
If you don’t have Jesus, then perhaps someone will do this for you. If you disbelieve in Jesus as Lord, but you experience the love of others in His name–does that not make you curious about the way faith in Christ inspires them towards authentic altruism? I hope you will be inspired by others’ choices to love you without reason beyond Jesus. Jesus’ love is eternal, and it echoes still today. If there’s anything worth echoing, it’s the ripples of love, joy, and hope that comes with knowing Jesus in our hearts, and sharing what that means to us. May you be blessed as you are overcome with His love for you. In Jesus name!