We live in a polarized and hate filled world. As Christians –followers of Jesus Christ –we should be leading the way and opening doors for his love to shine in what seems to be impenetrable darkness. Yet, we often get so caught up in legalism and judgment that we miss opportunity after opportunity to share God’s love. We waste our time building a cases against those who are different and justify our behavior by saying we have the truth. How sad our reality has become.
If we paused and considered the scriptures, we would see the error of our ways. Yet so many who call themselves Christians don’t really know what the Bible even says. It is a sad reality of the Christian faith of this day.
Proverbs 10:12 says, “Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.” So, I ask, why do we engage in acts of hate instead of love? If we are called to bring the love of Jesus to others, why is it we spend a great deal of time attacking other groups, adding heartache to their pain and devaluing their roles and opinions in this world?
Jesus did not walk in hate. He loved. We need only look as far as his interaction with the Samaritan woman (John 4) to see this very thing. Historically, Jews hated Samaritans and the Samaritans hated the Jews. It was a culture clash very much like those we have in the world today. And yet, when Jesus met the Samaritan woman at the well, he saw beyond the culture differences and instead of looking down on her, he treated her with kindness, respect and enduring love.
I believe our modern Biblical translations lose something at times. For example, when Jesus addressed the Samaritan woman, many translations say he called her, “Woman.” That sounds so harsh me. Even disrespectful. However, when researched, we discover the actual word Jesus used means, “dear lady”. Culturally, it was a term of great respect and honor. There was nothing belittling or dehumanizing in his approach to her. In fact, he treated her with such kindness her life was forever changed by his tender love and honesty.
Let there be no mistake. Jesus first loved her and that very love and respect led the way to her heart being healed.
In John 15:9-12 Jesus says, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” It couldn’t be anymore plain. Love must be our foundation.
In Matthew 5;43-47 the picture of how we are to love becomes even more clear.
“You have heard that it has been said, ‘You must love your neighbor and hate those who hate you.’ But I tell you, love those who hate you. (*Respect and give thanks for those who say bad things to you. Do good to those who hate you.) Pray for those who do bad things to you and who make it hard for you. Then you may be the sons of your Father Who is in heaven. His sun shines on bad people and on good people. He sends rain on those who are right with God and on those who are not right with God. If you love those who love you, what reward can you expect from that? Do not even the tax-gatherers do that? If you say hello only to the people you like, are you doing any more than others? The people who do not know God do that much.”
Jesus is clearly teaching, as believers in Him, we should love those who are different from ourselves, those who treat us badly and even those who persecute and hate us. We as Christians are called to love. It is our first and foremost duty. It is our calling and yet sadly we have fallen so far away from this foundational principal of what we believe.
Consider how we are known in this world. We are known as the extreme protesters who stand and jeer at fallen soldiers funerals. We are known as the people who force companies like Lowes to stop advertizing during shows like American Muslims on the TLC channel — while at the same time we urge others to advertize during 19 Kids and Counting. We are known to slam public figures who don’t live up to standards we place on them and then we devour our own when they stumble and fall.
Right after the tragic events of 9-11-2001 I spent hours sending an email to every Muslim and Sheikh webpage I could find. In it I expressed my belief that just because radical muslims brought terror to our homeland, it didn’t mean all those who were muslim (or appeared to be muslim in the Sheikh communities case) were evil. I expressed my willingness to help anyone in my community who was fearful to venture out. I ended up buying groceries for several families and bringing them to their homes. I now have several friends who I deeply love as a result of those difficult days. Recently, when I experienced my brain injury one family brought my family a meal. Love is the foundation of our friendship. It is my prayer that someday they will know my Lord Jesus, but whether they choose him or not, my love for them will not change.
1 Corinthians 13 talks specifically about love. For the purposes of this, I have only types out verses 1-7 and the verse 13
If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it;but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing. Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance…Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.
Imagine for a moment if, like Jesus, we all chose love. Imagine if we were willing to live life looking for opportunities to make people smile. Imagine if our goal was not to judge or condemn but rather to walk life with people who are like us and also people who aren’t. Imagine if we were the first to bring a meal to someone who was hurting and instead of trying to “fix” that person, we loved them in spirit and in truth. Imagine if we stood with the family of a muslim solider who died to help block the hate protestors. Imagine if we sent letters of love to the woman who is depicted on the American Muslim T.V. show who is experiencing depression after the birth of her baby. Imagine if we stopped pointing the finger at people’s pasts saying they aren’t good enough and rather pointed to the future that is always filled with hope. Imagine – just imagine – the difference there could be if authentic love was our foundation.
So, what do you say? Let’s stop imagining now and begin to look for ways to love. Let’s follow the scriptures and be patient and kind. Let’s love and forgive those who don’t love us. Most of all, let’s authentically and truthfully love those who are like us and also those who are not. It’s really just a beginning of a journey — the very start. But if we never start, the world will continue to get darker and lives will continue to be overcome by the hunger for love — even more than the hunger for food as Mother Teresa so wisely once said.
The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread. ~Mother Teresa
I have posted with the following link one of my favorite songs that I believe demonstrates the deepest, widest most pure love this earth has ever seen. He is my example, and Lord. Without him, the love I speak of is impossible for me. Love Song
My love, Nancy