Being a person who sees the best in everybody is hard to do. It’s easy enough to point the finger when someone messes up, regardless if they are your family, an acquaintance, even your best friend.
However, living a life that’s worthy of love means seeing people for who they’re becoming, not just who they are. Life is a daily journey and having a perspective where we see the potential in one another to be different is simply a better way to live.
That’s how the conversation started when I first started talking to Bob Goff, the New York Times bestselling author of ‘Love Does’. In this book, Bob talks about how we ought to love people, regardless of the mistakes they make or the differences they have in comparison to us, simply because God loves them regardless, and He expects us to do the same.
When I asked Bob how we are supposed to be witnesses in the world today, he mentioned that as a lawyer, he has to deal with witnesses on a daily basis. “The thing about witnesses is that they talk about what they saw and what they did….in our own lives, we try to fix people, but we ought to simply reflect what we do and say”.
Bob seems to know how to do this in his own life, being a lawyer who eventually became the Honorary Consul to Uganda through an extraordinary set of circumstances. Using his legal background, he was able to lead the first conviction in Uganda’s history of a witch doctor who had been caught attempting child sacrifice.
As a result, Bob too had a choice to make - whether to see this man for who he was, or who he was becoming. He ended up leading this man to Christ, and shares this story vividly in his recent book, ‘Everybody, Always’.
The premise is that we are to love everybody, all the time. Although it may seem impossible at first glance, the title of this book does reflect an actual way of life that is possible to live if we see the best in others, and how we are to respond to others in the light of God’s expectation of us.
In my own life, I recall many a time where I was expected to act in a certain way but didn’t. One experience that stands out is when I had to make a choice between what my family expected of me, and what I knew I was meant to do.
Growing up in a traditional family, the expectation to follow in the footsteps of the parents, even down to the exact career path and lifestyle, seemed to be the norm. However, reading the biographies of great missionary pioneers to South Asia had always inspired me to rediscover my roots in India; and I found myself at a crossroads - whether to live in the expectations of others, or to follow what I knew was right.
Of course, being human means that we often make choices that bear consequences beyond our ability to control or handle. At the time, I was barely twenty-one years old, and, as they say, I had “my whole life ahead of me”.
Yet looking back on that decision, I wouldn’t have done things differently, even if I had the chance to go back and relive that particular moment in time all over again. There’s something about living into a destiny that bears the marks of majesty which makes life all the more worthwhile.
A life of love
Perhaps living a life where we love people in a way that reflects how life is meant to be is actually the key to loving life, especially, as Bob himself would say, just as love does.
Joseph Kolapudi is a TCK born in Australia to Indian parents, and returned from California where he was studying theology at Fuller; currently, he is working with a missions agency, continuing his love of writing by contributing to PSI.
Joseph Kolapudi's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/joseph-kolapudi.html