What does it mean to “love others”? That is a question I’ve thought about quite a lot over the last few months. I think, as Christians, that is a question we have all had to struggle with at some point or another.
Loving others is so very important that Jesus tell us to do it directly.
In Matthew 22:37-39, it says,
“Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
I think we, as Jesus followers, try so hard to “love people” that we forget to love God first. Sometimes we get so caught up in loving others that we lose connection with the fact that loving God means living in truth.
The bible tells us TRUTH, the ONLY truth. The bible talks very plainly about some of the major issues our world and culture face on a daily basis. If we are familiar with what God’s Word says then we will be familiar with Truth when we are faced with it.
It’s also very important to remember that things like; homosexuality, abortion, adultery, addiction, aren’t new concepts, they aren’t new things our modern world deals with. They have been sins the human race has struggled to overcome since the beginning of our fall from grace.
The reason the bible is still so relevant to our world is that God knows His creation. He knew when He gave us a choice between Him and sin we would have a nature to be deceived into choosing our own desires every time. That fact has been proven generation, after generation, after generation.
You see, people who don’t know God or those who have no desire to know Him are navigating life trying to find things that fulfill them. The devil has been running his tricks since the very beginning as well. Convincing people they don’t need God to be satisfied, that they just need to take matters into their own hands.
When we are left to our own devices we will naturally turn back to comfortable, we will turn back to unhealthy, back to hurt, back to the dark, and
sometimes when we are in the dark long enough we forget what the light looks like.
For those of us who want and strive to have a relationship with Jesus, we’re often faced with the conflict of “loving people” and loving God and his Truth. If we side with truth we run the risk of pushing non-believers away. If we love people through their sin and never seek to say what the bible says about a lifestyle or an act then we aren’t loving God and His truth.
So, what do we do? I think the answer is not as complicated as we may think. We look to Jesus! Jesus wasn’t the person to hold a sign and yell at passerby’s that they were going to hell. He also wasn’t the person to be complacent. He spoke truth and guess what, some people followed and some didn’t. He got to know people even if they were sinners. He offered up Himself and the things He had with an open hand. I heard a pastor say recently “it’s easier to yell at people and tell them they are going to hell than it is to get to know them and earn the ability to speak into their lives”.
Jesus took the time to get to know people. He talked to them, answered their questions, and listened. That’s what I think we are called to do. We’re called to love God first, meaning know His truth and LIVE His truth, then we’re called to love others second. When we get the vertical relationship we have with God down He will show us how to love horizontally.
My prayer for us this week is that we would love God first then love people second. That we would be willing to understand and be open-handed with ourselves so that others can know Jesus by our LOVE. That we wouldn’t be complacent or harsh but that we would have a relationship so connected with the Light that people can’t help but see it!