***In May I have the opportunity to travel to Paris, France with CRU to share the love of Jesus with fellow college students. Would you prayerfully consider financially partnering with me? If you feel called to give a gift toward my trip, you can give online to my trip portal: here.***
Shortly after washing their feet, Jesus says to his disciples in John 13:34-35, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this, all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
This verse has been on my mind a lot recently. Especially in lieu of the Carry the Love event the Circuit Riders hosted for my school early in February.
For those who don’t know, The Circuit Riders stem from YWAM. They send teams out to college campuses all around the world to host Carry the Love events. These worship/revival nights have been designed to attract students who do not know the Lord. They often boast of prophecy, visions, and miraculous healing.
Upfront disclaimer: these events are good and important. I hold the deepest respect for the Circuit Riders and for everything they are doing for the Kingdom. This is not meant to be a slam on their ministry at all.
In mid-October, I found myself sitting in a Columbia Residence Hall with twenty fellow college students from all across the city. We were gathered together to plan and prepare for the Circuit Riders’ Carry the Love campus tour in New York. It was so beautiful to see students from Columbia, Fordham, NYU, Rutgers, and King’s coming together for a common goal: to see the love of Jesus reach our fellow students in New York (and New Jersey).
As time drew near for the event, my friends and I grew increasingly excited with anticipation for all that God would do for our school and for our classmates. The Circuit Riders arrived in New York, and every day the group chat for all the original students from that night in October was exploding with testimonies of what God was doing.
And then my school’s Carry the Love night happened… And I don’t really know how to explain it, but for a lack of a better term, it did not pass the vibe check.
The model of the Carry the Love nights acts as a hook; to introduce non-believing students to Jesus and encourage them to realize that Christianity can be fun and exciting. That’s wonderful for state schools like NYU. and works really well. But I go to a Christian school where even non-believing students know who Jesus is and what the Christian faith is supposed to be about. The model just doesn’t work for my school.
As I have thought more about it in the passing weeks, the Carry the Love tour is aptly named. The ministry reveals to non-believing students the love of Jesus by sharing the beautiful story of the Gospel. For students who know the Gospel, something more is needed. This is where John 13 comes in.
Events like Carry the Love, while important and useful, do not allow for a sustainable faith. After the spiritual high wears off, you’re left feeling a bit confused and empty. Once you leave a space where people are praying for you and prophesying over you, people just go back to being people and life goes back to being life.
Jesus did not give us a “new commandment” to organize more events that people may or may not attend and may or may not experience some spiritual encounter. No. Jesus’ new command requires us to be more hands-on. We can’t just throw an event and call it done. We have been commanded to love people; people who are easy to love and those who are not so easy to love.
Inviting people to large events with loud music and flashing lights will never be enough. Neither will events with prophesy or healings. None of these things are bad, but they are not sustainable. Only by loving people as Christ loved us can we draw people to Jesus.
To love one another requires individual relationship and community. Admittedly, loving people in this way is much more difficult than planning and inviting people to an event, but it is also much more rewarding. By removing our own walls and learning to love the people around us as Jesus loved those around him, we will be able to more effectively “carry the love.”