by Bishop Hee-Soo Jung
As we begin this new year, my prayer is that we focus on the love of God. This is a call from the Bible. Paul prays in 1 Thessalonians 12-13 that, “the Lord make you increase and abound in love one toward another and toward all people, even do toward you: to the end the God may establish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God…”
May we fill everything with God’s abundant, unconditional, all-embracing love; genuinely loving others as God loves us. Let us not forget that God’s heart includes all and extends the divine love to all. When we look around, there are neighbors who are suffering from illness, loneliness, poverty, mental illness, and/or marginalization. God calls us to love all – the least (by societal standards) and the lost (See Matthew 25). There are many who, in their racial, cultural, sexual/gender identity, economic status and/or circumstances, are not respected for their human rights. The Bible often invites us to bring all people into the hearts of our Christian community of care and of love.
We are called to “loving discipleship,” which is sometimes referred to as a transformative reversal of order. We are transformed when we love no matter our theoretical, theological, or economic stances. Foremost, Jesus taught that those who want to be honored must humble themselves and empty themselves. This is the essential points of the crucifixion and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Greek word, Kenosis, “emptying” would is a beautiful expression of love in Christian community.
I ponder upon the words found in Philippians 2: 5-11:
Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who though he existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, assuming human likeness and being found in appearance as a human, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death – even death on a cross. Therefore, God exalted him even more highly and gave him the name above every other name so that at the name given to Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus is Lord, to the glory of God…”
My hope for this new year is that we love each other, pray while loving, and love while praying. I hope that when we read the Word daily, we read it with love and believe that the only way to obey God’s Word is to love. Let us be courageous and love without any conditions. May we take courage from each other to create a world where everyone is treated equally and loved equally.
We love, YES! Only by love are we saved, reached, and loved.
Know that I am praying for you.
Hee-Soo Jung, Bishop
Bishop Hee-Soo Jung has served as resident bishop of the Wisconsin Annual Conference since September of 2012. Prior to leading the Wisconsin Conference UMC, Bishop Jung served eight years as bishop of the Northern Illinois Conference (Chicago area).