According to Andrew Lloyd-Webber in Aspect’s of Love, love changes everything. But although we still enjoy such sentiments in our rom-coms and Christmas film schedules, in our hardened and somewhat cynical age I suspect we don’t really believe it. I read a true-story recently that challenged my disbelief – and before you think I’m about to go all soppy on you, I’m not talking about soppy dreamy eyed love, but the active decision to put others first even if it costs yourself to do so.
In this story a beggar living on the streets of a large city was caught by surprise when he checked the contents of his begging cup. Not only was there the odd assortment of coins that he’d usually expect to find there, but also a beautiful ring. His gut instinct was that such a ring could change everything for him, it was clearly of value. In fact when he took it to be valued, he found it was worth about $4,000. Now maybe you’d see this as your lucky break, but he decided that he’d keep it; this was clearly a valued object and someone, somewhere, would be missing it. Later that week a woman came up to him as he sat cup in hand in his usual place and said that she may have accidentally dropped something valuable into it. When she confirmed that it was in fact that ring he returned it. Naturally she was thrilled and gave him all the money she had on her as a thank you; about $60.
The story didn’t end there. People heard of his act of kindness and began to ask if they could donate a couple of dollars to him. The woman’s husband set up a website for people to do this with the hope of raising $1000. When I read about this, the total was apparently $185,000 and still rising! Not surprisingly the story hit the national and international headlines, leading to another wonderful twist when a reader realised that the man she was reading about was her long lost brother…
The decision not to make a quick buck to put someone else had dramatic effects, loved changed everything. Not every act of love has such a dramatic outcome, but each act is a laying of another stone in the building of God’s kingdom. Of course the supreme example is seen in Christ’s life and death. Through the sacrifice of the Cross, nothing will ever be the same again. Paul talks about the joy of knowing Christ, the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings (Phil. 3:10). True love is always marked by these two aspects, the cost of putting another first and its transformational outcome. Such love changes everything.
Church newsletter, 19th May 2013