Isn't it amazing how when we really take the time to listen to God's voice, He lets us in on His heart?
And when He does that, He tends to apply it to our life immediately. That is exactly what has happened to me recently. Through many bible studies and sermons, the point has been made very clearly that if I truly love God, then I will love people. On the surface, that's easy to swallow. But when God places people in our lives that are hard to love, we realize it's not so easy!
At the end of John, Jesus tells Peter that if He really loves Him the most, then He will shepherd His sheep. And He tells Peter this three times in a row, which seems to be quite normal for Peter. Jesus was making it clear to us that if we really want to love God, then we are commanded to love and take care of His people. This includes people who are easy to love, and those who are difficult to love. We are drawn to those who are like us and people who make us comfortable. But God wants us to be like Him. Jesus did not hang around the popular. He did not hang around the loved. He went to the sinners and tax collectors. He went to the neglected. He went to the severely sick and disabled ones, who probably smell and had been laying on the same "pallet" for a very long time. Next, Jesus tells Peter that he was going to die in a very unpleasant way. And then He told him to 'follow Me'. In order to follow Christ, we must die to ourselves, and allow Christ to loves those through us when we are unable to on our own strength.
So what does this have to do with college ministry? Well, God has been challenging me and preparing me to love and minister to students who I might not immediately connect with. He wants me to love ALL the students, not just those who I can understand and get along with. And He wants me to challenge my students to live the same way, and understand that their life is not about them, but it is about Him, and living sacrificially for Him. To love God means to love people. And if I am having a hard time loving people, then I need to re-examine my relationship with God. I know that God is going to bring some students my way that I am not going to want to minister to if I am walking in my flesh. I know that I am going to have to die to myself everyday, and love all students. They are all created in the image of God. He has a purpose for all of them. Who am I to get in the way of that just because I don't click with them at first.
And let me just say this. I know that I have been that guy for someone else in my past. I know too many people while growing up that have gone out of their way to love me more than I deserve. I know that it was because of Christ in them. I know I have been difficult for some people, yet they still loved me.
Even greater than all of that is the fact that "while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Even though we were an enemy of God, He loved us. He died for us. He seated us on the throne. He has given us His inheritance. He adopted us.
Yet we were His enemy.
If I love God, then I will love people. Praise God, He first loved me!