At Hope Haven Rwanda, we talk a lot about the power of healthy relationships. We want to promote a culture of love and respect within our staff, faculty, students and the families that we serve.
My prayer is that every time we encounter someone, they sense that our team loves them, that we want to listen to them and that we want to honor them with the dignity that they deserve as image-bearers of God. This is a critical part of our mission to transform Rwandan families through education and discipleship. This is how we actively demonstrate the love, hope and truth of Jesus Christ.
Jesus calls us to treat everyone we meet with deep respect, to treat them as we want to be treated, and to convey His love to them as fellow image-bearers of God. That is what makes us distinct—we love. We even love our enemies!
John 4:4-26 relates a powerful story about crossing barriers to share God’s love. Jesus was traveling through the mountainous region of Samaria. Most devout Jews would go miles out of their way to avoid Samaria—Jews viewed Samaritans as dogs and despised them!
But Jesus went. He sat down by the well. It was around noon, and his disciples left him there alone while they went to search for some food.
“When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?”
This woman was stunned! Why was this Jewish man talking to her?
“The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans)”
But Jesus did! Jesus crossed so many barriers as He delivered hope. He crossed barriers of geography, culture and guilt. If we are going to deliver hope, we have to be willing to cross all those barriers as well!
Maybe the biggest barrier that Jesus crossed that day was the barrier of guilt. The woman was at the well at noon because she didn’t want to see anyone else. But Jesus gently stepped across the barrier and dove deeply into relationship!
Have you ever had one of those days when you feel so guilty, or so insecure or filled with shame, that you don’t want to be with anyone? That was her life—many days! But Jesus saw her differently. He recognized her as a person created in the image of God and he simply reached out in love. As Tim Keller says, “[Jesus], unlike fools who turn friends into enemies, made a career out of making enemies into friends.”
No matter who we are, or where we live around the world, we are deeply loved by God and we are called to deeply love others. Is there a relational barrier that you can intentionally cross this week in order to share God’s love?
(Watch the entire video from the SHIFT Freedom Conference, Denver, CO)