“And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.” (1 John 4:21, NIV2)
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34, NIV2)
One day while walking with my family in Brugge, Belgium, I saw from far off a beautiful old building. Interested, I went over to explore it. It was built in 1713, and it was called “Godshuis De Vos”. Literally translated, “Godshuis” means “House of God”, and “De Vos” was the name of the person who funding the building’s construction.
I discovered that day that this kind of housing can be found not only all over Brugge, but all over Flanders, the Flemish part of Belgium, as well.
In all reality, these houses could have been called, “Houses for the poor and the needy”, as these complexes were built for the sole purpose of housing people in need. Rich families of Flemish cities built these houses to help out the poor, the lonely and needy widows, and the widowers as well. These rich benefactors loved God, and since Jesus urges all of us to love others as He loves us, they found that they couldn’t do otherwise than to come to the help of those truly in need. This explains why they are called “House of God”!
This practice began in the 14th century, and the last Godshuis to be built in Brugge was in the twentieth century. These complexes, consisting of 4 to 24 homes, were all beautifully built, most of them around an inner court where the inhabitants could cultivate vegetables and obtain water. Most of the housing complexes also had a chapel, and the inhabitants were encouraged to pray for their benefactors. I am sure all of them did, as all their needs were provided for, even food and basic care.
You see, we cannot love God without loving His children, and we are all children of the Lord. True love is always a three-way kind of love. First “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16, NIV2) God’s love for each one of us is so amazing! Even though we really don’t deserve His love, as we have all wandered away to follow our own selfish pursuits, He continues to love us indiscriminately.
Once we come to know such love, we can’t help but to love as God does. This means we love others as much as we love ourselves. This is how we show our love to Him. There is no other way, no exemptions. Love can only be demonstrated through love. “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” (1 John 3:18, NIV2)
May His love urge us to do something about the extreme poor. 1.4 billion people in this world live on less than 37$ a month. We wouldn’t even be able to afford an iPod with such an income, much less be able to sustain ourselves. Let’s remember that love can, after all, only be demonstrated through love!
(To access the entire “The Question About Love” devotional series, please click here.)