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December 2016 Newsletter

What does it mean to love everyone always? 

By Laurie Nichols

December 1, 2016

Several years ago, I took some homemade cookies over to my neighbor’s house. They were Muslim, and if you know much about Middle Eastern cultures, you might know the people are hospitable—often spending hours upon hours together in fellowship.

When I rang their doorbell, I thought I would drop of my cookies, hand them the handwritten card which boldly announced how much Jesus loved them, and be on my way. Of course that’s not what happened. To my dismay, I was invited in and offered Turkish tea. We chatted for quite some time and I left with my heart feeling full and empty at the same time. Full because of the invitation to enter their personal space. Empty because this happens too rarely; our culture is not prone to invite in the stranger, the other, the outcast.

Willow Creek Community Church launched a campaign last month called Love Everyone, Always. Meant as an antithesis to fear and divisions, the message is core to the central teaching of Jesus: Love your neighbor as yourself.

I saw a sign in a neighbor’s yard just after the November 11 election and I wept as once again my heart felt full and empty at the same time. Full because of how much the simple act of loving can change our world for Jesus. Empty because love happens too rarely, and too wrongly. This morning I saw a sign that demonstrated a very simple component of love. The sign read, “No matter where you come from, we are glad you are our neighbor.” It’s a thoughtful message, but what really made me stop in my tracks was that it was written in a number of different languages: Spanish, Arabic. It was contextualized and had the hearer/reader in mind.

That is love. It begins with ‘the other’ in mind. We contextualize our message through language, through actions and deeds, through words and meaning so that the other may hear and receive what we are offering.

Love, at its core, is so simple, and yet so complicated. It takes intentionality and creativity. It takes time and perseverance.

This Advent season, loving everyone, always, in ways they will best receive, is the best gift we can give to others.


Laurie Nichols is New Name's very own writer. She writes the beautiful monthly devotionals. The Lord has truly gifted Laurie and we are so grateful that she shares her talent for New Name. Thank you Laurie!