Some folks are just hard to love. At least by human standards, there are times when I can't imagine why some people deserve my kindness at all. Not that I wanna be mean, but I just can't find a warm fuzzy feeling about them especially once they've shown me a total lack of sincerity and kindness. Once I've seen the ugliness of someone's heart it becomes very difficult to just love them, only to risk my own heart being stepped on again.
However, there are people in my life whom I have loved who barely deserved to be tolerated. People whose partiality and insincerity, whose lying and judgement, deserved for me to not see them, much less see the 'good' in them. Yet, I did it and it moved mountains.
Jesus called us to love our neighbor as ourself. Grappling with this, I asked my son, who exactly is my neighbor?
He answered, mom just like Jesus told the parable about the Samaritan and the Jew, who historically hated each other, your neighbor is everyone! Everyone needs love and you are to love everybody! I hate that my kid is so aware at times. He is much better at the loving his neighbor thing than I am because he doesn't seem to wrestle with it as I do. I'm a work in progress.
The whole conversation about this parable made me think of a saying that my dear pastor friend Charles E. Blake from the West Angeles Church Of God In Christ always says...I see you in the future and you look much better than you do today! Thats so awesome. That's how Jesus sees, and once saw, us. He saw, and continues to see, our future and it looks better than the ugliness of our present.
Yes, it's hard to see some folks in the future and imagine they look like anything more than the sneaky, self possessed, caught up, fake, sold out sinners that they are. However, if Jesus can we should! We must.
We must, not just because Jesus said we must, although that could certainly eliminate any other reason why we must. But, I will go further into some practical reasons. We must because it's the only way to walk above this world un-offended and unaffected by people and their current sinful conditions. If you cannot get above the daily offenses of people you'd be a walking bucket of anger, bitterness, jealousy, and hate, instead of an overflowing well of love and life.
But, people hurt me, you reply?
We'll, I too have been affected, deeply hurt even, by people's lack of love for me in return to my outpouring of love for them. I have been talked about, lied to, used, abused, attacked, publicly humiliated and accused for no reason, and worse seen my very own child suffer these things from folks. Now you know how much a mom can hate you when you lie to and hurt her child! Yet, I can't help but understand how much more was, and is, Jesus hated daily in return for His abundant love.
He poured out His life. We pour out our humanness in a fleshly, prideful, display of thinking we got it all under control ourselves. He poured out His mercy. We pour out politics and self serving agendas. He poured out His grace. We pour out lies and deceit. He poured out His love. We pour out destruction. He poured out His eternal support. We support eternal ugliness, killing the hopes and dreams of righteous children, while promoting the hopes and dreams of the unrighteousness. He poured out His leadership for us as an example to follow. We promote men to positions of leadership who shouldn't be followed and who are a bad example. He poured out His divine friendship. We prefer friendship with a world who follows Satan. He poured out eternal justice. We pour out unfairness and injustice daily.
Recently, I had a riff with a dear friend who mistakenly misinterpreted some things my husband said with the best of intentions. It's not important. God will heal it with love. But, her response really hurt me and I've been so sad about it.
Hurt can challenge our ability to see past peoples present condition into their future more than anything. The pain people can cause us is often overwhelming and undeserved.
The point is, I have been asking Jesus how I love my neighbor when he or she hurts me?!
Jesus answered, rather simply, love will give you the wisdom to see past what happened in that moment into the future. And since love thinks the best, the future will look much better than it does right now from your viewpoint of your own personal hurt, pain and disappointment. This is how I love you daily. Awesome.
She may hate you, she may have even caused others to hate you, and provided fodder for them to gossip about, and be fake with you about, and dislike you about, but she is your neighbor and you should love her as you would want her to love you if the situation was reversed.
In fact, Jesus continued speaking to me, you want me to love you when you fall short. Right?! You want me to see YOU looking better in your future than you do today! You need me to see you looking better in your future, because trust me sweetie, your today isn't as beautiful as you'd like it to be!!! OK Jesus that was harsh!!! But true!
To Me, my dear daughter, Jesus continued, you are as ugly sometimes as the Jews were to the Samaritans and vice verse, yet my command is that you love one another. I died because I love you. Respect why I died by killing your own point of view and adopting mine.
He's asking us to die! To die to our own feelings and embrace His.
And, it's not easy. Nothing worth having ever is!
I have learned that the Jesus of the Bible expected Christianity to be a lifestyle, not just a Sunday trip to church, a get out of jail free card, or something you embrace when it's convenient and easy to walk out.
Christianity should be your life! I am a walking epistle of Jesus. I am a walking lesson of His love and grace. I am a surrendered vessel.
The Jesus of the Bible, not Jesus as He's been watered down, marginalized, and manipulated, by Christians today who've ruined His image in the world, expects me to represent Him well and He asks that I love my neighbor. It's really not that much at all when I consider how much like my neighbor I can be, if I'm honest. It's really not that much at all when I consider how much I want Him to continue to bet on the fact that I'm gonna look even better in the future than I do right now. It's really not that much at all when I rely on His love for me.
As I know Jesus so my life reflects Jesus. And as my life reflects Jesus He is honored, He is loved, and others experience Him. When others experience Him and His love in me the transforming power of Christ is released to work miracles.
I've been away from the blog for a while because I'm immersed in developing my new tv show and finishing book number one. But, this lesson of love and hurt and our neighbors and the injustice we see around us that causes us to naturally question how an intelligent God could expect us to love others has been tugging at my heart for weeks.
Love is the most critical and essential piece of everything! Not passive, numb, love. Powerful, consuming, victorious love!
He keeps leading me back to trust Him. He keeps leading me back to the promises and prophecies which lead me to the place I am in my life right now. A place that doesn't look anything like I thought it would I might add. He keeps telling me to love in the face of attacks and to stand strong in prayer over everyone, and everything, because He, and therefore we, will win before it's all over.
The glory of The Lord will be seen and His name will be exalted above every other name that has taken a false throne as god. His standard will be lifted up. His servant will see victory. And, His people will know His love.
How? Because of how I choose to respond in love to every situation that's how!!!
He keeps leading me back to love and showing me the aggressive, powerful, competitive force that love is. Love is not passive. Kindness is not weakness. Humility is not a lack of self-confidence. People have it all twisted and they see these qualities through fleshly, worldly, eyes. A child of the King sees these things as they really are. Weapons of mass destruction against the enemy. Weapons of warfare that are mighty to the pulling down of strongholds. Weapons that will eventually destroy obstacles in front of us and deliver into our hands the starting position on the playing field. Love conquers all. Love always has a winning season. Love made, and will make, a way out of no way.
And, I love, because He first loved me.
If Life is truly a sermon that you live out loud. Then, Love is truly the words on life's pages.