Put aside your theology, doctrines, & politics for a moment. Strip it all away. At your very core, you are a child of God. That person you’ve been arguing with, condemning or judging because of their beliefs- they too, are a child of God. Got it? Good. Okay, now that we have that settled. As a child of God your greatest calling is to love God & love others. Now, God gives calling in the form of vocation as well, but that is not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about the greatest commandment, and it seems pretty simple right? All we have to do is love others. No big deal, no big challenge. Wait, yes it is! If we are being honest, people are difficult to love, and on top of that we have our own selfish human nature in the mix. How can this whole "love your neighbor" thing even be possible?
It's too hard, and people are the worst sometimes. Yet it is possible, and it comes out of the place of loving God first. Out of intimacy with the Father, comes the fruit of loving others. It doesn’t happen magically. Because you are a self professing follower of Christ, this does not automatically equate to you loving others well. Because you believe all the right things, again this does not mean you love others well. Having the truth is only part of it, there must be fruit in our lives. There must be love. We must submit, intentionally, daily and sometimes multiple times a day to the Holy Spirit for this to be possible. For His guidance in the things of love and interaction is infinitely better than our own strength and striving. Trust me on this one.
Love is gracious, compassionate & slow to anger. It is not self seeking, it is not rude. Love always protects, always trusts, always perseveres. If we are not careful we can believe all the right things without actually loving, and that my friends is meaningless. God does not treat us as our sins deserve. He is our example to follow. We live under grace, we extend grace to others. We must clothe ourselves in love, put on love like a garment daily. It takes action, it takes humility and a whole lot of the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We won’t be perfect, and it won’t happen overnight, but we can become a whole lot better at this.
Let’s drop the facades of- us vs. them, wrong vs. right, liberal vs. conservative, open minded vs. intolerant. Authentic community is messy, it is real. How can you reach across the divide to people from different backgrounds, cultures, beliefs, personalities, and come together in love. This is our battleground. We must love our neighbor, our day in, day out community.
We’ve all heard 1 Corinthians 13 read, probably at every wedding you’ve ever attended, but this famous letter on love was not intended for the sole audience of married couples. It was intended for a dysfunctional church. We are meant to be the hands and feet of Jesus to a broken and hurting world, we are meant to be a light in the darkness. Yet why do we seem to do more harm than good?
We must learn how to love better. Everything you do and say, the actions you take, the Facebook comments you leave- those are representations of Jesus to those you are interacting with.
How are you representing Jesus?
So here is the challenge: to put on love, for love covers a multitude of sins.
May these trying times, spur us on towards greater intimacy with Jesus & deeper levels of love for those around us.