I jumped out of bed, startled by the morning light. My alarm hadn’t gone off. Quickly, I grabbed my phone to see why. My phone would not even turn on. It was unplugged, and the battery was dead. About that time, my sweet teenager stuck her head in my room to ask to borrow a sweater, and I fussed at her for no good reason. This was not how I had wanted my day to start.
We have a choice in the way that we respond to the events of the day. While our world is filled with brokenness, frustration and pain, as Christians, we are called to love.
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.
— 1 John 4:7 ESV
John tells us that if we are Christians, then we should love like God loves. Our love is how we show the world that we are different, even when we wake up late, get a flat tire while it’s raining, or when everybody else around you is in a terrible mood. John goes on to explain a few verses later that, when we love each other, God’s love grows in us.
No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.
— 1 John 4:12–13
Christians must learn to do “everything with love” (1 Corinthians 16:14). Doing everything in love can only happen when we make love an intentional practice. We should be practicing intentional acts of kindness until loving in difficult situations becomes our default pattern instead of anger or frustration. Loving like God can be challenging on the best of days, but then when you add in a day punctuated by office politics, traffic on Hwy. 80 and spilled coffee, it could mean that your next human interaction is far from loving. This is why it is so important for Christians to ask God to cultivate a pattern of love in our lives.
This may mean that you pick the longest line at the grocery store and intentionally smile at the checker when you are paying for your groceries. It may mean that you pray for the person who cuts you off in traffic. You may need to step away from your teenager before you react, in order to preserve the love in your relationship. My friend Lindsay calls this being a secret agent of grace. When we give grace or love to someone who may not deserve it, we are loving like God. The more we love others around us, despite our circumstances, God begins to perfect his love in us. Intentionally going into the world and loving those around us is how we set ourselves apart from the world. Love big. Be different.