By Melissa Wuske
As part of my freelance work, I write reviews of self-published books. While there are many high-quality, well-developed books, some books I read fail to meet the goals that the author has for them. The books have passion and good ideas, but the authors haven’t studied their readership, the market, or the process of creating a book enough to make the book successful.
God asks his people to look out for each other, especially those who are vulnerable. I’m enthusiastic about this, but carefully directing my response is key. When my protective actions are based on my own assessment of the person’s situation, when I root my help in pity rather than love, I miss the opportunity to be an effective part of God’s protective force.
To be effective, I have to make sure my primary interests are God’s truth, my witness for Christ, and the love that unites the body. I find that it’s easier to keep Christ as center and to think about how my actions affect my witness than it is to truly love. When I’m not loving deeply, my help can be pretty condescending: I tiptoe around, offer help in a way that belittles, or call attention to others’ weaknesses or my strengths. Adding love to the mix keeps me from being legalistic or self-serving.
Love and Vulnerability
But love is more work than a quick, charitable response. Love means getting to know someone; it means listening to them. It means pushing past my discomfort with tough topics and questions; it means overcoming my inability to sit still and listen. It means stepping beyond my impression of myself as the helper, the strong one. When I truly love, I move beyond projecting myself onto someone else’s situation and into the empathy that comes from participating in the body of Christ.
Being part of the body of Christ requires vulnerability, but when I show love before, during, and after my actions, I live out God’s care for the whole person.
Melissa Wuske is a freelance editor, writer, and the communications director for Stop Traffick Fashion
(melissaannewuske.com). She lives in Boston with her husband, Shawn.