by Bill Bright
A single act of love can have beneficial ripple effects far-reaching beyond our wildest imaginations. Refusing an act of love can have the opposite effect.
In 1952 a probation officer in New York City tried to find an organization that would assist in the adoption of a 12-year-old boy. Although the child had a religious background, none of the major denominations would assist in his adoption.
Said the officer later, “His case had been reported to me because he had been a truant. I tried for a year to find an agency that would care for this needy youngster. Neither Catholic, Protestant, nor Jewish institutions would take him because he came from a denomination they did not recognize. I could do nothing constructive for him.”
If the principles of Christian love had prevailed in the Bronx in 1952, perhaps a good home could have been found for that young, mixed-up lad. In fact, providing a better environment for him might have changed history. For, you see, the boy was Lee Harvey Oswald, who later assassinated President John F. Kennedy, causing grief to the nation and the world.
Love is the greatest power in the universe. God is personified in love. “God is love,” the Scripture tells us (1 John 4:16). And “love never fails” (1 Cor. 13:8). “This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another” (1 John 3:11).
In our relationships with others, often what passes for love is little more than a neat business transaction. People are kind to us, so we repay them with equal consideration. When they treat us unjustly, our negative response is really what they asked for. Everything is so balanced, so fair, so logical with this eye-for-an-eye and tooth-for-a-tooth kind of justice. But Christian love never settles for only what’s reasonable. It insists on giving mercy as well as justice. It breaks the chain of logical reactions.
General Robert E. Lee was asked what he thought of a fellow officer in the Confederate Army who had made some derogatory remarks about him. Lee rated him as being very satisfactory.
The person who asked the question seemed perplexed. “General,” he said, “I guess you don’t know what he’s been saying about you.” “I know,” answered Lee. “But I was asked my opinion of him, not his opinion of me!”
Dr. Bill Bright is founder and chairman of Campus Crusade for Christ International