Petra Kooman, from International Justice Mission (IJM), came on our show to talk about the real love described in 1 John 3:16 (NLT): “We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters.”
For Petra, love is defined as staying: staying through crisis, staying to listen, staying to help. In her role with IJM, she has seen the critical importance of staying, rather than moving from crisis to crisis. When IJM came to one particular community to help widows deal with land theft, the criminals warned a widow that if she spoke out, they’d seek revenge when the NGOs left. But IJM did not leave and worked with the legal system to prosecute the guilty parties. Loving others often means staying when everyone else has left.
Petra referenced John 1:14 in The Message: “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.” In Jesus, God did not just drop by for a visit, He moved in to our lives. Petra tries to honour this idea in her own life, building a home life and contributing to her community instead of flitting around when wanderlust strikes.
Jesus could have spent his days on earth flying from mountain top to mountain top, but he spent most of his time sitting and listening to those he met. Through his actions, he emphasized the importance of staying: staying behind as a boy in Jerusalem, staying with Martha when others had gone ahead, and staying with the disciples in Emmaus. And the night before he is crucified, he has one request of his disciples: “remain here and keep watch.” Staying is a way to live out our love.
How can we show love through staying? Can we sit with a friend in her sorrow? Can we take on a longer-term financial commitment to our church? As Christ followers, we often think we show our love through action and activity. But sometimes staying put can be the greatest show of our faith.