I am certain that it is the desire of every believer to love the way Christ does—to live what the Scripture says, to go the distance that Jesus was willing to go for lost humanity. And so we set out to obey His commandment to love others as He loves us . . . until we, like Peter, meet the limitations of our own ability to actually do so.

After all, opening your heart to other people always involves a risk. Many have loved deeply, given generously, opened their heart, and ultimately been stabbed in the back. Yes, sometimes these things happen. People may run away and deny they ever knew us; others who once leaned close and said they loved us end up taking off in our moment of need. But will we let that stop us from being given for them?

Jesus once said to His disciples, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). There is no way you can take up your cross and escape the betrayal. There will come a point when people will spit in your face, but as a follower of Christ, you must continue to love them.

When Jesus said, “Love one another as I have loved you,” it was not a suggestion but rather a commandment. However, we must also understand that He was actually adding another commandment to a series of commandments that nobody had been able to keep. The Law and the commands of God were meant to highlight the hopelessness and futility of our trying to become godly in our own strength. Therefore, I think you will agree with me that the great need of this hour is another outpouring of the Holy Spirit. We need the love, compassion, and benevolence that marked the early Church, and it must be birthed and sustained in us by God.

It all starts with the willingness to say, “God, pour out Your Spirit, and help me to love like You do. I thank You for the blessings in my life, yet I am aware that they have been given to me for a reason—so don’t let me be blind to that purpose. Don’t let me simply take everything and use it for my own benefit. Oh, God, open my eyes and my heart; give me the courage to care. Take me where I cannot go in my own strength. Enable me to follow You to the place where You went—where You were poured out for others!”

Carter Conlon joined the pastoral staff of Times Square Church in 1994 at the invitation of the founding pastor, David Wilkerson, and was appointed Senior Pastor in 2001.