Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Loving People

The second is like it: 'You must love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commandments."  (Matthew 22:39-40 ISV)

The entire law is summed up in a single command: "Love your neighbor as yourself."  (Galatians 5:14 NIV84)

Putting these statements together with yesterday's blog post (Loving God) can seem contradictory.  How can Jesus tell us that following God will cause division even in our families, then tell us to love them!  Well...he does.

Actually, the picture is quite clear.  It just seems difficult (even impossible) to live out.  When we look at it from God's perspective, however, it really isn't.

It all seems to come down to the definition of love.  People try to tell us all the time that love means giving them what they want:  "If you really loved me, you would...
...give me another drink.
...let me take another hit and not turn me in.
...leave me alone in my depression.
...stop judging me...

God's definition of love, however, is quite different.  He doesn't give us what we want.  He gives us what we need to get back together with Him and to begin enjoying the blessings that come from walking with Him.  He didn't redefine sin using "correct" terminology that makes it alright now.  He didn't stick His head in the sand and ignore what was going on.  He saw the mess we were in.  He came down here Himself.  He did everything necessary to break us free and to keep us free.  Then He said, "Come on.  Let's get out of here."

Loving our neighbor (and spouse and children and parents and...) means actually helping them.  It means feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, and doing whatever is necessary to bring them into a walk together with God.  This is what Jesus did, even to the point of laying down his life.  "This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters."  (1 John 3:16 NIV)

Family members and friends who do not believe, then, are not the enemy.  They are the first group of people we are called to show Christ's love.  We are not called to argue them into the kingdom.  We are called to love them where they are while we live in the kingdom.  We don't walk away from God or waver in our faith (Loving God with everything), we simply lovingly live out our walk with God and invite them to join us.
The better we live in the kingdom, the more they will be attracted to God.
Walking with God is so amazing that we cannot hide it from others.
Love compels us to share.
Now that's love.