Loving people. It’s part of the Great Commandment. But so many Christians get hung up on it.
Who qualifies? Who doesn’t?
I’m currently reading quickly through the Gospels. What I’m noticing most right now is how Jesus responds to people.
- The way he tells people not to talk about the miracles he’s performed- He’s not seeking attention.
- The way he defends women for their bold actions, and, though it wasn’t culturally acceptable for women to get a seat up close- He still gave them one.
- The way he leads his disciples- a rough group of guys, even though they didn’t have it all together.
- The way he keeps Judas in his inner circle knowing full well he would betray him.
Jesus puts no condition on people before loving them. He simply loves. He knows the rumors being spread. He knows the intentions of those around him. Yet he consistently responds with compassion to those around him. He brings the poor close, He heals the broken. And He doesn’t make people jump through hoops before doing so.
Jesus brings hope; Jesus brings freedom.
The group of people He is hardest on are the religious people. They don’t understand why Jesus would pick a tax collector as a disciple. They don’t understand why He would allow a woman to sit at his feet. They don’t understand why he would sit with the most immoral of society.
They want sinners to get cleaned up first. To get their act together. Then, they thought, they could earn God’s love and attention.
But, fortunately for us, we will never earn our way to God. It doesn’t matter how great a sinner we are or not, we all need Jesus’ help. We need Him to rescue us from our sinfulness, our brokenness.
For that I am so grateful.
The closer I get to Jesus, the more clearly I see my need for His grace. That’s how it works. In the presence of the Holy God, our own sinfulness becomes very evident to us.
I love Peter’s response to Jesus when He first met him. After showing up on the shore where Peter had been trying to fish all night, Jesus tells him to go out again. He does reluctantly and he catches more than he probably ever caught in his career that day. Peter bows to Jesus and says, “I can’t take this, Lord. I’m a sinful man, You shouldn’t be around the likes of me.” (Luke 5:10)
As far as I’ve come, I have so far to go. And I’ll never get there, I’ll never be worthy. I need His grace every day.
Accepting my own brokenness allows me to see other people’s brokenness and have compassion. I am no better. I am in just as much need of His grace every day.
We don’t love people because they deserve love. We love people because we have been loved. This means there is no condition to who we love. There is no condition to who deserves grace. There is NO condition. We simply love.
We will be taken advantage of.
We will be laughed at.
We will be ridiculed.
We will be judged for it.
But if Jesus is our example, how can we expect anything less?
None of us are deserving of His grace, but if I receive it, then I’m commanded to show it to others.
If you want to be extraordinary- love your enemies! Do good without constraint! Lend with abandon! Don’t expect anything in return! Then you’ll receive the truly great reward- you will be children of the Most High- for God is kind to the ungrateful and those who are wicked. So imitate God and be truly compassionate, the way your Father is.
Luke 6:35-36 (The Voice)