"I was thinking..."
I was thinking…Pastor Steve
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved
you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know
that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
John 13: 34, 35 (NIV)
I was thinking how hard it is to love one another. I know for Christians it isn't supposed to be, but, come on, it is. Some people are just unlovable. You have the rude or crude. Then there are the ones who have forgotten hygiene class elementals. That doesn't even take into account someone's political, economic, religious (or not) stance or affiliation. What are we supposed to do? How will we be able to satisfy the command Jesus is giving us in the above Scripture? Did He ever meet stinky Pete?
The truth is, Jesus not only knew those who were different than Himself, He was known to hang out with "undesirables." These people (and let's be fair we're including the fishermen, tax collector, rebel rouser, anger management candidate, and back stabber) were the ones that the "religious" folks wanted to have no personal time with. That didn't stop Jesus. He also touched and forgave those who were untouchable, lepers, people who were obviously sinning, the woman at the well. If the Pharisees, the really religious, weren't willing to help these people, you know that they had some serious issues, right? Not necessarily. Sometimes people get labeled as "bad" but it's just that, a label. They may be the nicest person, just hit a bad stretch or hard times. Or possibly, they've contracted some terrible disease through no fault of their own.
There are a multitude of reasons people are unlovable. It's easy to find an excuse not to love them, but will we find an excuse to love them? I've had several occasions to be with people who were unlovable. I must confess, I didn't love them like Jesus does, but I tried to do better than my first reaction wanted me to. I've been able to get past my normal reactions, but it's a daily struggle.
What I have come to find out is that if I look at someone as a soul created and loved by Jesus, then it goes beyond the physical. I look at them as someone Jesus died for. They had an intrinsic worth to Him, and, if He loved them that much, then I needed to get past myself and take another look at that person through His eyes.
I may have told you this before, but I'll mention it again (I can do that, I'm an old guy). Dona and I were at the Creation Festival at Hershey Park in Pennsylvania many years ago. We had been volunteering with Compassion International, and when Tony Campolo gave an opportunity to sponsor a child with Compassion, there was a huge crowd around the table. Dona and I went down to see if we could help even though it wasn't our shift. As people were crowding around, we were passing child packets out. One young couple was looking at a packet, and I came up behind them and asked if I could help them. They turned around and had multiple piercings in their faces. It took me back! I mean, this was a Christian festival, and they didn't fit the image. But, in a split second, I saw them as I think Jesus sees them...two people who were moved to sponsor a child and share their love and prayers with a child in a different country. I've had that happen to me several times, waking me up to the fact that it isn't about me, it's about loving others.
It's hard sometimes. People are disagreeable. I can be disagreeable...just ask my kids. But I'm getting better, and I hope you are, too. Jesus loves you, and so do I. And, hopefully, you love me, too.
God bless and have a great Valentine's Day!