For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.
    So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, what is unseen is eternal.
    ~2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Monday, December 15, 2014

How to Love Unlovable and Unlikeable People (Part 3)

Repeatedly in the New Testament, Jesus followers are told to love others. No caveat. No astrick. Just . . .  

Love Others.

Not to judge others. Not to discipline others. Not to change others.

But it's easier--no, safer--NOT to associate with the liberal fem-nazi, the girl with the nose ring and tattoos covering her entire left arm, the pious church lady, the gay co-worker who enjoys sharing his weekend exploits, or the mother-in-law who finds fault in everything you do and has no shame in giving daily reminders.

Haven't you been warned at church to stay away from the world? From the sinful people in the world? From the sinful people in the public school system? Protect your children. Evil company corrupts good character. Follow the commandments, tithe your 10%, don't miss Sunday church services, don't drink wine, don't watch anything on rated R, read your Bible every day, do those things that show you're a good Christian.

Somewhere in following all those religious rules and regulations, we lost what really matters to God. Our hearts.

Erwin McManus wrote:

"Two thousand years ago God started a revolt against the religion. He started. So don't ever put it past God to cause a groundswell movement against churches and Christian institutions that bear His name. If He was willing to turn Judaism upside down, don't think for a moment our institutions are safe from a divine revolt. I'm convinced that even now there are multitudes of followers of Jesus Christ who are sick and tired of the church playing games and playing down the call of God. My travels only confirm that the murmurings of a revolution are everywhere. I am convinced that there is an uprising in the works and that no one less than God is behind it."

A vast number of religious leaders in Jesus's time put all their stock in following the rules, rituals, traditions, commandments, programs, and expectations . . . and they often forgot to put love first. I know people in the church who've made judging others an art form. (I've been guilty as well.) Try wearing an Adidas athletic suit to church on Sunday morning and see how many "how inappropriate of her" looks you get. (Of course the test has greater significance if you're married to one of the pastors.)

The gospel of Matthew records Jesus saying:

"This is what our Scriptures come to teach: in everything, in every circumstance, do to others as you would have them do to you."

  • You want to be listened to. listen to others.
  • You want to be accepted unconditionally, accept others unconditionally.
  • You want to be loved, love others.

And by "others" I don't mean only the people who are easy to like. Stop judging others and holding them up to your standards of righteousness. So what if someone wears shorts to church on Sunday morning. So what if someone enjoys a glass of wine on occasion. So what if someone lets loose a profanity or almost profanity. So what if someone doesn't discipline his children to your level of satisfaction. So what if someone decorates her house differently than you, doesn't read the types of books you do, enjoys watching cheesy daytime talk-shows, thinks the King James Version of the Bible is the only God-ordained one, or even insists the movie AVATAR is new-age, environmentalist propaganda.

In his book THE END OF RELIGION, Bruxy Cavey wrote:

"Jesus called His followers to live by a higher standard, the way of love instead of the way of the law. And to drive home His point, He had to break the rules over and over again." 

What "rules" would you break if you loved others without caveat?

Love is patient; love is kind. Love isn’t envious, doesn’t boast, brag, or strut about. There’s no arrogance in love; it’s never rude, crude, or indecent—it’s not self-absorbed. Love isn’t easily upset. Love doesn’t tally wrongs or celebrate injustice; but truth—yes, truth—is love’s delight! Love puts up with anything and everything that comes along; it trusts, hopes, and endures no matter what.

No comments:

Post a Comment