President Barack Obama is permitted to use only a BlackBerry, even though iPhones and Android devices are far more popular. The reason: encryption is stronger on the BlackBerry than on other cellphones.
Perhaps we should share his concern: according to The Washington Post, the National Security Agency gathers nearly five billion records a day on the whereabouts of cellphones around the world. Analysts use the data to find cellphones anywhere in the world, retrace their movements and expose relationships among people using them. They are looking for unknown associates of known intelligence targets, but critics warn that these techniques violate our personal privacy.
Now consider three additional news items. First, hundreds of religious refugees fleeing to Thailand are reportedly being sold to human traffickers. Second, Russian investigators have launched a probe into suspected child trafficking in the United States, responding to reports that adopted children, some born in Russia, are being traded on the Internet. Third, Pope Francis has asked the Vatican to set up a special committee to protect children against sexual abuse within the Church. Experts will bring concrete recommendations intended to improve pastoral care and institutional responses.
What do these disparate stories have in common? They illustrate the value—or lack thereof—of human beings. From Cain and Abel to today, it has always been tempting to make people a means to our end. Utilitarianism seeks “the greatest good for the greatest number.” The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one.
By contrast, Jesus came at Christmas for the one. He loves each of us so much that he leaves 99 sheep to find us when we go astray (Luke 15:3-7); he sweeps the house to find us when we are lost (vs. 8-10); he celebrates with great joy when we come home (vs. 11-32). If only one person in human history had sinned, Christmas and Calvary would have happened just the same.
Today, Jesus is interceding for each of us (Romans 8:34). Since he is not bound by time, he has all of eternity to pray for you right now. Do we have his passion for the one? Would the people you saw yesterday say that you had his heart for them?
Love as a noun does not exist. How much does it weigh? What color is it? Love as a verb changes everything. What wouldn’t you do for those you love?
How do we love people as Jesus loves them? By asking for his help. Love is the “fruit” or result of his Spirit at work in our lives (Galatians 5:22). When we ask Jesus to love people through us, he will align our attitude, thoughts, words and actions with his. But we must ask.
I will never forget hearing a missionary pray, “Lord, break my heart for what breaks yours.” Imagine Christians around the globe praying those words this Christmas season. Would our world be different? Would you?