“By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35
There was a point in my life that I had to consider whether or not people could tell that I am a follower of Christ by the way I loved those around me. The resounding answer was no, and that stung. Even though during this period I was trying to handle a breakup in the most “Christian way” possible. Ultimately, I found that the solution to all the less than Christ-like feelings I had, was simply to love the way God commanded me to.
Loving those who love us is easy. Loving when things are peachy is easy. But, when the smiles turn into frowns and the giddy laughter is replaced by shouting voices of anger, that’s when loving becomes hard. That is also when genuine love shines through. And I believe that’s the beauty of love and it’s power. Love is powerful because it represents the precise character of God and it is so against the ways of the world. This world does not teach us to love those that hurt and wrong us, and even those who disagree with us (take a peek in the comment section of anything controversial.) Instead, we choose to retaliate with our words, actions and even our lifestyles.
Unfortunately the church has been looking a lot like those comment sections too. Surprising? Not really. There is this desire to be heard and most of all to be right. Unfortunately, that also accompanies strong emotions that tend to get the better of us and spew out into the world of social media. At the same time, there is this misconception that disagreement is synonymous with hatred. We have gotten to the point where for a Christian to be seen as loving, then they must be in agreement with a particular group or lifestyle; or even change their FB profile picture to the rainbow. And yet, reacting in anger and engaging in unfruitful debates does not seem like the way to go either. I have friends who have had to block a fellow believer because their posts were so riddled with pride, negativity and selfishness. There is a saying that my Grandma would recite in a situation such as this one; she would say (pardon the language if this is offensive) “you’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t!” The idea I believe she was trying to convey is that neither of the options available will be well received.
So what do we do? We can glean from Jesus’ interactions with sinners; and those whose lifestyles were not grounded in His truth. And that’s exactly what Jesus did He interacted with sinners. He did not turn a blind eye to their sin neither did He approve of it. One of my favorite stories in the Bible is Jesus’ encounter with Samaritan woman in John 4. It’s the perfect example, it’s like Jesus is God or something! But seriously, Jesus engaged her and He confronted her sin! Engaging with non-believers is always an opportunity to introduce them to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is imperative that we do not allow fear to prevent us from taking up those opportunities when they present themselves. Being Christians who love to hate is not the way to introduce people to the saving, loving Grace to be found only in Christ.