Their latest blog post, “Loving Your Enemy, Even When It’s ISIS. Yes, Even Then” proves this is not an empty platitude.
Lynne Hybels urged, “Read this slowly…prayerfully…let these words undo you.”
This is the imago Dei. This is hesed.
No word in the English language captures its exact meaning [of the Hebrew word hesed]. Consequently . . . we end up with a smorgasbord of words like “kindness,” “mercy,” “loyalty,” “loving-kindness,” “loyal, steadfast, unfailing (or just plain) love”—words that certainly touch on what hesed means but by themselves don’t begin to do justice to this powerful, richly laden word. As a result, we easily skim over references to hesed without realizing we have just stumbled over one of the most potent words in the Old Testament.
With a little help from Hebrew scholars, we can come a little closer to the meaning of hesed than a llama is to a lamb. They tell us hesed is a strong Hebrew word that sums up the ideal lifestyle for God’s people. It’s the way God intended for human beings to live together from the beginning—the “love-your-neighbor-as-yourself” brand of living, an active, selfless, sacrificial caring for one another that goes against the grain of our fallen natures.
Two parties are involved—someone in desperate need and a second person who possesses the power and the resources to make a difference. Hesed is driven, not by duty or legal obligation, but by a bone-deep commitment—a loyal, selfless love that motivates a person to do voluntarily what no one has a right to expect or ask of them. They have the freedom to act or to walk away without the slightest injury to their reputation. Yet they willingly pour themselves out for the good of someone else. It’s actually the kind of love we find most fully expressed in Jesus.
In a nutshell, hesed is the gospel lived out.