LOVE HIM OR HATE HIM?

Lately I’ve been blown away with the love of Christ in a new and fresh way. He’s been working on my heart and revealing some deep issues. Allow me to share.

It began a few weeks ago when I was watching the ESPN ESPY Awards on TV, a show where athletes are recognized and awarded for their accomplishments. I was enjoying it until a certain individual was honored for their courage. That person received the award for standing up for themselves and their beliefs amid a storm of controversy (I won't digress into the individual or their story as you can research that for yourself). As the individual took the stage to accept the award and give a speech, I felt a sensation of disgust, perhaps even hatred, toward that person for their beliefs. It bothered me so much that I turned off the television and went to bed. 

WHAT IF CHRIST LOOKED AT ME THE WAY I LOOKED AT THIS PERSON?

Turning off the television however, didn't turn off my emotions. I still felt disgusted. As I processed my feelings I began to question myself as to why I felt this way. What had this person done to me?  Why did I feel this strongly? As I continued to process, the questions got deeper. Who am I to judge this person? Why am I so self-righteous?  And then it hit me: what if Christ looked at me the way I looked at this person? Surely He had every right to. I’ve betrayed Him, sworn at Him, lied to Him, forgotten about Him, misunderstood Him… the list goes on and on. If Christ looked at me and felt love, rather than disgust or hatred, enough to even sacrifice His very life, then what right do I have to look at another person and withhold that same love? As I thought about this, I realized that I don't love people as much as I thought I did. 

How should I, or we, respond to those we disagree with, even find ourselves disgusted with? Let's face it, there are many people around and within the church today that stand in opposition to Christ and His teachings. But how are we to respond? With hatred? By attacking them on social media? By ridiculing them in public? By distancing ourselves from them so we don't even care? Yes, there are times to rebuke and times to speak loudly, and also times to dust off our feet, but there is never a time to withhold love. Christ gives us this advice when he tells us to love Him with all of our heart, soul and mind and love others as we love ourselves.

IF I DON'T LOVE OTHERS, WHAT DOES THAT SAY ABOUT MY LOVE FOR CHRIST?

In 1st Corinthians, Paul lists the characteristics of love: patient, kind, not boasting, not proud, not rude, not self-seeking, not easily angered, keeps no record of wrongs, rejoices in truth, protects, trusts, and hopes . Guess what he ends the list with: love perseveres and never fails! 

Christ is causing me to realize just how much He loved me, and that He expects me to love others with the same sacrificial love. Why does He expect this of me? Because He loved me first. So whether we agree with someone else or whether they have wronged us, may we respond with the love of Christ. After all, we've heard that “they will know us by our love."  So in my book the award for courage goes to Christ. Therefore I will follow him, doing my best to love others as he loved me!

THANK YOU CHRIST FOR LOVING ME WHEN YOU DIDN'T HAVE TO.

In response to these ideas, who in your life do you need to love better? First pray God will change your heart and then plan to practice the characteristics of love as outlined by Paul in 1st Corinthians. Share your convictions with your life group as they can help you process your feelings. Remember that Christ loved us so much. May we strive to show that love to others.