But I have to confess something: I love it that the Netherlands has won 22 medals in speed skating so far!! I love their devotion to orange! And I love that the king and queen are there in their orange sports attire, cheering their skaters on!
Now Norway has more medals, but I don’t really have the same feelings for Norway. The Russians and the Canadians feel to me like long-time rivals, so I don’t cheer for them either. I do love to see the Germans do well, but they are a powerhouse country, so they should do well—maybe better than they are doing!
So why do I love the Dutch? I’ll come back to answer that question in a minute.
Let’s move to a different plane and switch from talking about national sport teams to talking about which countries God loves.
Sometimes we Americans think that God is an American and that He loves all the other countries, but just wishes they were like His special country! That’s pure jingoism—and not really harmless nationalism.
Some people think Israel is God’s favorite country! But Jesus said, “And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham” (Matt. 3:9). God does love the children of Abraham . . . the true ones.
We don’t have to guess about this: here is our final answer! The final answer is “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son . . . .” Red and yellow, black and white—and all the colors in all the flags—and all the people standing and singing all those foreign anthems.
So now we can get back around to the Dutch: maybe if I can figure out why I love the Dutch, then I can better understand what it will take to love the Norwegians, for instance.
From a lifetime of being involved with the world, here are some tips I have learned about how to learn to love the world:
Travel to other countries, but not with a bunch of other Americans. If your only experience in other countries is disembarking from a cruise ship for a few hours, or flying over, traveling to all the sights in a bus with your former classmates or some other affinity group, then you may have had a great trip, but you have not given yourself a chance to really fall in love with other people.
Go to one country at a time—not as many as you can squeeze into seven days. From the Netherlands you can get to Germany, Luxembourg, Belgium, France, and the U.K (by hovercraft) in less than two hours, so it is tempting to use Amsterdam as a jumping off point to “see it all.” But then you won’t love the Netherlands!
Just within an hour of Amsterdam are Haarlem, Leyden, Alkmaar, Zaanse Schans, Keukenhof, Marken, Vollendam, Delft, den Haag, and a lot more wonderful and fascinating sites and places. If you take a one-hour canal tour of Amsterdam and then leave for the next country, you have missed almost everything!!
Get to know some local people! This may not be as easy as it sounds. Here are some tips that might work for you:
- Go to church on Sunday. That’s where Christians are on Sunday, so if you want to meet local Christians, go where they are. Be prepared to accept an invitation to eat with them afterwards.
- Go with a short-term mission group that interacts closely with local people. In Let’s Start Talking projects, you can sit and talk with locals all day long!
- Stay at a bed-and-breakfast instead of a tourist hotel. If you are young and brave enough, the youth hostels are also a great place to meet people.
- Travel by train instead of by car. Cars insulate us; public transportation throws people together.
- Go to a “small” event. We have gone to high school soccer games, local school performances, local church-sponsored concerts, auctions, flea markets, for instance. You just have to appear to be open to meeting new people and they will come up and introduce themselves to you.
Learn about the country: history, culture, current events, art—not in order to become an expert, but because we don’t care very much about things we don’t know much about! I hardly know anything about Norway; that’s the problem, isn’t it!!
And here is the big secret I have for you: you will begin to love every country where you begin to know people who live there! I’m quite sure that national boundaries have very little to do with why God loves the world. He loves the world because He loves the people of the world.
One of the comments that we hear often from LST workers coming back from their short-term mission trip is “I used to always pray for all the people in the world, but now I know some of those people, so I pray for them by name.”
If you only love Americans, you have not begun to tap the capacity of your heart for loving people. God made your heart big enough to love the world too!