There’s a lot of tension in the world today. Whether it’s politics, the Coronavirus pandemic or other current events, we are constantly being told to pick a side.
As Christians, we are called to stand firm in our faith and follow Biblical examples and leadership — Jesus being the primary example of Godly living. When we look to his example, we see that a pillar of living like Jesus is loving those around us.
There are countless places in the Bible that direct us as Christians to love each other. We are also called to love our neighbors and brothers time and time again. I think Christians often think this means “love those like us” but, in reality, it’s the opposite. In Luke 10:27, Jesus says there are two rules — love God and love your neighbor.
Later in that chapter, he tells the parable of the Good Samaritan. He tells a story about a man who was robbed and left for dead. Both a priest and a person from his own town passed by him without stopping to help. Eventually, a person from a rival city stops and helps him.
We know this story because we hear it in Sunday School as kids, but have you ever actually thought about what it means? It doesn’t just mean “help other people.” The ESV version of Luke 10:33 states that the Samaritan “had compassion.”
We are supposed to have compassion for people regardless of who they are, what they believe or where they come from. This includes people who are our “supposed” to be our enemies. In case it hasn’t connected, loving your neighbors means loving people, even people who don’t like you or who aren’t like you.
This message isn’t new for the people listening to Jesus because he says that exact thing four chapters prior. Luke 6:27-31 tells us to love people regardless of what they do to you. Do good to those who wrong you. He then hits it home by calling out people who choose to only love and support people like them. He says,
“If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.”
As Christians, we’re called to live a life that displays Christ. Christ loved and showed compassion for everyone, regardless of who they were. It serves as a reminder that you don’t have to like someone to love them.
In John 8, we read a story about a woman who is pulled from an act of adultery and thrown in front of Jesus. People often talk about how Jesus told the woman to stop sinning, but they forget to mention a crucial part of the story. Jesus told lawmakers and religious leaders that they could stone the woman if they, themselves, were blameless. As he said this, Jesus was writing in the dirt below him.
I have always been curious to know what Jesus was writing. It was obviously something that made an impact, I wonder if he started listing their sins by name because none of them threw stones. Not only did they not throw stones, but they left!
It’s important to note that even before Jesus told the women to stop sinning, he says, “I don’t condemn you.” So yes, he told her to stop sinning, but he first tells her that she’s forgiven.
People without God won’t see God if those who are supposed to live like Him refuse to love them. It stays as an important reminder for me to always put this action first.
Lastly, there are three books of the Bible that are almost completely dedicated to telling readers to love other people: The Johns. 1st, 2nd and 3rd John are letters, most likely written by John (hence the name), to churches about 50 years after Jesus’ death. Each of these letters says some variation of, “God loves you, love other people,” over and over. I encourage you to read them today.
When you read the letters together, it’s repetitive. It seems like he said it once and later heard people were still shutting out those they didn’t agree with so he sent another letter saying it again. And then again. If John were still writing letters, there would probably be thousands of them and I feel like the last one would say,” SERIOUSLY, guys, how many times have I told you that God has said approximately a million times to love people?!” It’s that important.
As the political climate starts to warm up and as things happen in our world, I want people to remember that the people they are talking to and talking about are also human beings. Human beings, made by God, who deserve love and compassion. Even if you don’t think they deserve love and compassion if you are a Christian you are directed to show them love and compassion. Love God. Love people.
Matthew 27:37-40 Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.”