Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. (1 Corinthians 13:4-6)
Lives change when love is present.
There is something particularly invasive about love that confronts so many of our preconceived notions and then proceeds to shatter them. Whether these are thoughts and beliefs towards a specific person or people or simply just towards a way of life and overall thinking. Love forces you to stop and evaluate what you think you know and to wrestle with the deeper meaning of what it means to have value and worth that isn’t defined by others but by the one who is Himself Love: God.
Most of the time when we hear and use the word “love,” it’s simply a way of describing a really intense enjoyment of something. “I love basketball,” or “I love pizza, the weather, the Ducks, etc.” You get what I mean. All of that puts the emphasis on informing others of what we as individuals enjoy. The deeper meaning of love that I’m referring to gets at what it looks like to live love out as a servant and not merely as a consumer. The type of love that is sacrificing and welcoming, that doesn’t judge but seeks to understand and meet you where you are and then walk with you out of it. Love like this is liberating and empowering beyond the moment. Love like this changes you. Thats what is so scandalous about the Gospel and about Jesus. He reclaimed and redeemed the word ‘love’ through what he taught and how he lived, and in doing so has shown us how we ought to love one another.
If you know anything about Hosea Youth Services then you know that we operate a Drop-In-Center in Eugene out of a local church basement for homeless and at-risk youth. There’s nothing particularly glamorous about the set up as everything that we have and use from the kitchen appliances to the bathroom, the furniture, the pool table, the tv, and everything else is in need of either a tune up or a complete upgrade. It isn’t polished or perfect but it’s there. Each time we open our doors, it’s there. There’s something else that’s always there too, the people. Whether the youth we serve, the volunteers, the interns, or the staff, there is no Drop-In-Center without the people. There is no Hosea without the people.
Though I’ve only been a part of the Hosea team for a little over a month, I’ve experienced this invasive type of love and am reminded of it each day I get to interact with the people who come through our doors, especially our friends who are living on the street. They welcomed me in and have shown me such love, grace, and patience as I’ve been learning the ins and outs of Hosea, as well as Eugene, and have sought to get to know me along the way. They’ve shared parts of their lives with me and have listened to me share parts of mine without an agenda and with a tremendous amount of kindness. It didn’t take long for me to be humbled by the fact that they weren’t just homeless youth who needed my advice and my efforts to make them more than that, but that they ARE incredible humans with INFINITE worth and value because of Whose image they are made in. Whether they realize it or not, which I’m sure they don’t, they’ve given me a deeper insight into what it means to love like Jesus. They have also reminded me so profoundly, that our circumstances don’t define our worth and value as humans. Those things have been bestowed upon us from our Creator and communicated fully in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Something that I need to be reminded of daily.
It’s funny, I thought I was coming to Hosea to change their lives by loving them but what I’ve experienced already is how their love has changed mine by refining and teaching me how to better love and serve others in light of eternity.
In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. (1 John 4:9)
~Ryan Arel, HYS Assistant Program Director