If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing.
If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing, (1 Corinthians 13:1-4).
Remember how a few shows ago Oprah Winfrey would give away her favorite things to audience members and how everyone wanted to be part of the gift-a-ganza because, well, “You get a car; you get a car; you get a car … everybody gets a car”?
It was all so exciting.
words + photograph JULIE JOHNSON
Awhile back, I was at Harter House, wandering the aisles. It’s something I do. Wandering in a grocery store is educational. If I were a chef who created her own recipes, my creativity would skyrocket. Next time someone asks me about my hobbies, I’m going include wandering the aisles on the list.
So I was at Harter House. An older gentleman was in my aisle. I said, “Hello,” because I felt I should. He returned the greeting, and I kept talking. Tears began to fill his eyes. His wife had passed away years ago. He was lonely. He thanked me for talking to him.
Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other.
When I was little, I stole a candy bar from a store while my family was camping. Or so I’ve been told. My siblings had to return it. Or so I’ve been told.
Pride can get the better of me.
I have lied, cheated, and you know (see above).
I have not always honored my parents.
I have made bad choices after being hurt.
I can be cruel, mean and so unkind.
I have regrets that can sink my heart.
I have hated. I have wished harm.
I have ignored God.
And yet Jesus took all that sin – and all of what I won’t admit – and paid my debt on my behalf so I might have life, abundantly.
Not only my sin. Upon His shoulders was the burden of every bad ever done, every horror being done now, and every unimaginable act not yet thought.
Because God loves you.
Because God loves me.
Because God created us for His purpose, today and always.
The author of 1 John 4:11 wrote, “Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other.”
Jesus said, “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples,” (John 13:34-35).
- Jesus met the woman at the well and, rather than condemning her lifestyle and misguided choices, He loved her.
- Jesus met the rich man who owned much property and, instead of judging the man’s self-righteousness, He showed him love.
- Jesus wept with a family and their friends when Lazarus died and, rather than scolding them for little faith, He loved them.
- Jesus was dying on the cross beside a criminal, a bad guy. “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom,” the crook said. And Jesus, because of His love, said, ““I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Instead of pretending material things can make us happy, I would like to shout this out now, “You give love. You give love. You give love. Everybody give love.”
Brave Reader, YOU GIVE LOVE. Let’s lead a life worthy of our calling by giving a loftier love. Let’s care for one another. Let’s be humble and lift others up. Let’s think the best and work alongside others for solutions and better communities. Let’s engage in conversations and meals and laughter. Let’s invert our pain by using it to love others.
Love is patient and kind.
Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.
It does not demand its own way.
It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.
It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.
Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance, (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).
The gentleman who shared my aisle at Harter House may have thought about our interaction once that afternoon. I have considered it numerous times. You know how the Grinch’s heart grew three times the size? Being kind to that man caused my heart to do the same.
In the February issue of Homegrown Journal, we share stories earnestly appealing to the idea of Long Live Love. We invite you to read our stories, to stay awhile, to share what speaks to your heart.
Jan Weiss tells the story of filling the gap of respite care for women who are homeless.
Joshua Manning admits his life isn’t what he planned, but he has found joy in loving his neighbors.
Robin Rees talks about what the Lord taught her about purpose – and how she and her husband have lived love loudly – after an unexpected AIDS diagnosis early in her marriage.
Teresa Flora‘s story of adoption spans the globe.
In addition, Thomas shares about being an exchange student from Taiwan.
I teach you about the Amish Paste tomato and how to freeze it.
Plus, Mary Bradley, Debra Piper-Slaughter, Terri Darrah, Mary Lee McFarland, Sonja Grisham and Sandra Amyx tell us about a moment each has felt loved.
Reader, I hope you are loved well. I hope you receive that certain hormone each day that is released when you’re hugged for a certain number of seconds.
But I also hope you give love extravagantly, no holds barred, just like Jesus. We need more of that. #LongLiveLove
editor in chief
Cover photograph circa mid-1980s. Courtesy of Johnson family vault.
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