Be Loved

Christian Latina Leadership Institute

By: Jana Atkinson-Morga

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In this month when we celebrate love, if you were to stop people on the street and ask them for a definition, I bet you would hear a great assortment of answers. It is exciting that I have been asked to write about love. Now, not that I don’t know love. That I do in a great many ways. It is interesting to me because I have spent the last few months working on a Disciple Now weekend for my youth group. Get this, the theme is Be Loved.

This theme is the second part of a three-year plan to build, to guide, and to shape the youth ministry’s students into disciples through the ministry’s tagline: Be Known, Be Loved, and Belong. As we look to the second part of that tagline, Be Loved, it is crucial to find the words that define how students want all people to understand and be loved. When preparing for this upcoming Disciple Now, I asked our volunteers and our guest speaker to share with me what they think of the word loved. I was reminded that to be loving goes further than a feeling; it is an action, a verb. This verb, this action, is making someone see that they are known by showing them that they are seen and appreciated. When we value others for who they are, we love them. 

When seeking out a definition for love or being loved, one could look straight to the apostle Paul’s words in what is considered to be the love chapter, 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. There you can find a bulleted list of what love is and what love is not:

  • Love is patient and kind.
  • Love does not envy, boast, dishonor others, or delight in evil.
  • Love is not proud, self-seeking, or easily angered.
  • Love rejoices with the truth, always protects, trusts, hopes, perseveres, and never fails.

These words are big and important. However, without actions, these words are inanimate; these words are flat. When considering our lives with others, we must understand these words and take a step forward.

We indeed have a place with God, a partnership with God where we are to love others as God loves us. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in his book Life Together, says that learning to love others begins with learning to love who they are. Learning to listen to them, their hearts, and their hurts. This is why love is more than a beautiful and grandiose list. Paul teaches us that love is bigger, wider, and deeper than we can imagine.

Love is animated through the stories of scripture. Love is echoed through the continual deliverance of the Jews throughout time; love is understood through the words of the prophets, and it is animated in the wisdom and historical narratives. 

There is beauty in seeing the ministry of Jesus and embracing his message of love. He was counter-cultural. He changed the world not only through the work on the cross. Although his death and resurrection did indeed open the door for reconciliation, his life was one where love was always a verb; it was animated.

This practice of animating love through actions becomes clear and tangible to us in Jesus’ example. The experiences with those he encountered, and the calling of those deemed as outcasts or undesirable to be his disciples are our standard of life today. Furthermore, Jesus himself importantly shares with the disciples that we will be known by the love that leads our lives. This love is expressed by giving warmth to those who are cold, food to those who are hungry, fellowship to those who are lonely, kindness to those who cross our paths, and supporting every person in all walks of life, letting them know that they are beloved, they are known, and they belong.

This is where I find significance in salvation. Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection allow us to be in relationship with God, to look forward to being in the presence of God after this life, and to being a partner with God in this life.

Lois Lowry writes in her book Number the Stars, “surely that gift—the gift of a world of human decency—is the one that all countries hunger for still.” This is a staggering truth. This world, our world, hungers still for human decency. I have come to understand that we are called by God to be ministers of reconciliation (II Corinthians 5:18-20). We are partners with God to share great selfless and brave love with the world.

This love is personified in the push for change when the world’s brokenness overwhelms everything. It goes further than thoughts and prayers because faith without works is dead (James 2:26). The love of God is embodied by advocating for those who face war, pain, and injustice in this world. It is grace, mercy, and justice that carry the love of God to the corners of the earth.

This love is challenging indeed, but not impossible. How can you show this kind of love today?

Jana Atkinson-Morga is a CLLI graduate and Student Minister at Woodland Baptist Church in San Antonio, Texas. She holds a Master of Divinity from Logsdon Seminary and a BA in Bible and Theology from Baptist University of the Américas.

Categories: Blog

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