It wasn’t until I was in my adult life that I started going to church and first heard someone say, “We just want to love on you.” The intentions of the people I met were well meaning and from the heart, but I have to admit, to “love on” someone strikes me as a silly phrase and makes me laugh every time.
I didn’t grow up in the church, so a lot of Christian verbiage still rings foreign or unnatural to me. Being asked to “love on people” - or to tell someone “we just want to love on you.” - conjures up a visual of several people, arms spread wide and loaded with hugs, dog-piling a surprised and somewhat confused recipient. Or, it's a bit like when I see my adorably chunky cat, Gravy, sleeping peacefully, and I simply can't help but rub his plushy belly – smothering him with love and disrupting his comfort zone.
To "love on" someone strikes me as a silly phrase and makes me laugh every time.
I still find myself a bit sensitive to many things that fall heavy on the church-o-meter, and even feel a bit alone in that at times. So, I’m pretty sure that this kind of Christian language sounds strange to the ear of someone who has just started to open up to Jesus or who hasn't even taken that step yet.
I'm not saying that we should be less warm or welcoming. In fact, I think it's outstanding when a church is filled with loving people ready to greet new faces that come through their doors.
I'll never forget the people I met when I was exploring the Christian faith. I was getting married in just a few months, and these new friends quickly offered to help with our wedding. It usually takes me a long time to develop friendships in which I’m comfortable asking for, or receiving, help from others. But this time, I happily accepted.
One friend baked dozens of delicious lemon and chocolate cupcakes for our reception, another offered to be our photographer, while others decorated the church office with flowers for our quaint and intimate ceremony. We didn’t have a lot of money to spend on our wedding, and they gave of their personal time and energy to help us make it a beautiful and memorable day.
Our wedding is just one example of many ways that I experienced the generous, unconditional love of Jesus (through people). OK, yes, you could say that these people ***** on me.
I said, you could say that – I just can't do it!
Maybe it’s a matter of saying what we mean in a language that we can all understand. Instead of telling someone that we want to love on them, we could just as easily say, “We care about you and want to help.” or “You’re important to us, and we’re here for you.”
We can all strive to be sensitive in the way we communicate. Put ourselves in the shoes – and the eyes, ears, background – of the person whom we want to show love, and ask God to help us choose our words wisely. That’s something that Alpha does very well, as it intentionally creates this type of safe and authentic environment.
Got questions about life? Try Alpha.