“There is more hunger for love and appreciation in this world than for bread.” — Mother Teresa
Love: It hopes. It believes. It endures.
God made us for it.
If I don’t have it, I’m no better than a clanging cymbal.
Yet I hoard love. I save it for those who love me back. I give it most freely to those who respond the way I want.
Love was meant to be passed on, freely, yet I fail to give it to those who cry out for it.
I want to share love like a group of guys did in prison last weekend — recklessly, without regard for appearance, ability, smell, whether the favor of love would be returned.
Last weekend, my husband and a group of guys spent a few days in an Iowa prison with about 35 inmates who felt utterly unloveable. This group went into the prison to love, no strings attached. They listened to their new brothers, prayed with them and shared communion with them.
Prisoner or free, they were all sinners, saved by grace. Which sort of levels the playing field.
At the close of the weekend, a few of the inmates shared what the weekend meant to them. I’ll let them speak for themselves:
“People treated me like a human being again.”
“I learned that there were really people that cared about me.”
“God loves me.”
“I can’t believe the real love I felt.”
“You didn’t judge me for what I did in the past.”
“You prayed for me.”
“I gave my life back to Jesus.”
On the world’s menu, a lot of these prisoners feel like the leftovers. And really, any of us who has ever communed with God knows exactly how this feels: You’d settle for a crumb from the Master’s Table, but unbelievably, He serves you the feast.
At the dinner table in prison, the men drink from common, ordinary cups. The cups are nothing special — beige, drab, without decoration, or any mark of distinction. They blend in with the other cups, and when they break they are thrown away.
During the weekend at prison, the prisoners shared communion from one of those common, ordinary cups. By itself, the cup was nothing special. But filled with the blood of Christ, it had worth greater than gold.
So, too, are we. We come as broken, chipped vessels. Common, ordinary folk. But when filled with Christ, we are invaluable.
“Love each other as I have loved you.” — Jesus, on the night of the Last Supper
Photo: Prison-issue cup and John 15:12-17.