Have you ever seen the love bugs that invade the muggy southern states twice a year?
I mentioned them in my post about My Messy Friends, but I’ve had a small change of heart toward these pesky bugs. A very small change of heart. I still can’t stand trying to dodge them outside. I wouldn’t refer to myself as squeamish (my husband might argue this point) but I’m not overly bothered by bugs in general. With the exception of mosquitoes preparing to suck my blood, I don’t generally even mind them landing on me. Until the first pair of love bugs landed on me and I realized just what they were doing.
My 4 year old likes to say, “Look, Mommy,they are attached.” A nice euphemism for what is really going on. These crazy bugs truly live up to their name, as they fly around “attached” for a few days and then die. Let me tell you, it only takes one encounter with them to be able to identify them like an entomologist. There is no mistaking these for any other species of bug.
It is particularly unfortunate that I am so bothered by these little insects, because I have been referring to my boys as “my little love bugs” for several years now. I was seriously considering eliminating this term of endearment from my arsenal…I have plenty of others, so who would miss this one that now seems to have been tarnished by the memory of these pests of plague-like proportions?
As I was sweeping their carcasses off my porch for the third time in 8 days this morning, I pondered their fate. They love and they die. That is their whole purpose in life. And everybody knows just what they are by their actions. Then, I recalled the verse we were asked to consider for a meeting I attended last week, John 13:35-35. Jesus says, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Now, I know with all certainty that Jesus was not suggesting that the disciples wander aimlessly engaged in the kind of love that love bugs are known for. That is Eros love, a passionate, physical, romantic kind of love. Jesus was talking about Agape, selfless and altruistic love. His direction to them was to love as He had loved and that was how they would be identified as Christians to the rest of the world. Jesus loved everybody, not just the good people, not just the people who wanted to be His followers, but every single sinner and socially unacceptable person. He loved the tax collectors and prostitutes, the hypocrites and murderers, the idol worshippers and the blasphemers, thieves and liars, the sick and the unclean, those who believed in Him and those who didn’t.
Can you same the same for yourself? How would someone who was meeting you for the first time know you were a Christian? Would someone who was watching you from afar know your beliefs? All too often, for me the answer is probably not as favorable as I would like. I have passed by a homeless person, fallen silent in the presence of the sick, been short-tempered with my children and my husband, failed to offer help to a friend in need. Sometimes I just don’t know what to do, or how to help. Some people are easier to love than others. Sometimes our judgement can become so clouded by our hatred of a particular sin that we forget that Jesus loves ALL the sinners.
Jesus knew that even His disciples who had literally walked with Him would need help after the crucifixion and resurrection. He reassured them that support was coming in the form of, “the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance,” all the things He had told them. I take a lot of comfort in the knowledge that despite my failures, Jesus still loves me. I find encouragement in the belief that, as I’m willing to accept it, Jesus has sent me a helper in the Holy Spirit to teach me to love unconditionally and demonstrate this most important characteristic of Christianity.
While I may never come to enjoy actual love bugs here, I’m not changing my kids’ nickname, either. I will instead pray that the Holy Spirit will teach and empower me to love so that I can be easily identified as a Christian.