What does it mean to love Christ? Or maybe a better question would be, how do we show our love for Christ?
This is an interesting question because in so many ways showing love to Christ is an intangible commitment. Because we can not see Christ, and there is nothing Christ really needs that we can give, it becomes difficult to explain how we show our live to Christ.
I can explain how I love my wife (or how I try to show love to my wife.) Obviously there are big things like remembering birthdays and anniversaries and buying her nice gifts, but there are the little things that I try to do to show my love. I try to care for her and help meet her needs. Rub her feet at the end of a long and stressful day. Bring her flowers from time to time just because. Stay up late to put the laundry in the dryer so that she can get some sleep. Make sure her car is filled up with fuel before she takes a trip.
I can explain how I try to show love to my children. I snuggle with them in their beds before they go to sleep. I take them to the children’s museum or park to play. I learn the words to their favorite Taylor Swift songs so I can sing with them. I chase them around the house and play tickle monster and hide-and-seek until we are all laughing so hard that our sides hurt.
But how do I show that I love Christ? It has to be more than reading my bible and praying. It is clearly more than having perfect attendance at church assemblies. I can’t buy Christ a gift, or take him to the park to play, or comfort him at the end of a long and stressful day, so what can I do?
Mother Teresa answers the question this way in her book A Gift for God: Prayers and Meditations
Because we cannot see Christ we cannot express our love to Him; but our neighbors we can always see, and we can do for them what, if we saw Him, we would like to do for Christ. Today, the same Christ is in people who are unwanted, unemployed, uncared for, hungry, naked, homeless. They seem useless to the state and to society; nobody has time for them. It is you and I as Christians, worthy of the love of Christ if our love is true, who must find them, and help them; they are there for the finding.
Mother Teresa, whose ministry to the poorest of the poor in Calcutta gave her more fame and notoriety than she ever wanted or desired, believed that the way to show we love Christ is by loving not just our neighbors; but loving the forgotten. The drug addict who continues to abuse even after years of rehab. The prostitute who has chosen to sell her body to put food on the table. The AIDS patient whom the rest of the world sees as unclean and fears touching. The homeless who stink and smell because they have nowhere to get clean. The mentally handicapped who require constant attention. Or anyone that we or society deem unimportant, unwanted, or simply not worth our time and energy because we fear they will simply take and take and give nothing in return.
Jesus said, when you love the least of these, you love me. When you love the ones that no one else wants to love, that is when you show the world that you love me. Not when you go to church, not when you keep all of the rules, not when you pray three times a day, not when you are recognized for having strong morals. It’s when you love the unwanted, the uncared for, the broken, the hurting.
What is most interesting about the quote from Mother Teresa is that she says the unwanted are there for the finding, and if we love Christ, we will find them. We can’t just expect them to come into our churches. We must search for them, we must leave the safe walls of the church and go through the streets and alleys to find them and to love them, because only then will we truly love Christ.