Sometimes that’s what I wish Jesus had taught; but He didn’t. In the New Testament Gospels, Jesus taught that we should love God first and foremost and that we should love others as we love ourselves, even our enemies.
Maybe that’s easy for you. It’s not easy for me.
I think our 21st century, postmodern, post-Christian culture treats love as currency. We give love when we agree or approve of others. Conversely, we withhold love when we disagree or disapprove. Think about it. Isn’t that true?
But that’s not the love that Jesus taught.
Jesus didn’t withhold his love from those that He was in disagreement with. Instead, he gave love to the very ones who needed it most. In love, he didn’t simply approve of people’s actions when they contradicted God’s Word and Truth. No, he corrected them sternly; but with love. Unfortunately, we don’t tend to operate that way. If I approve of your lifestyle, I will extend love to you. If I disagree with your life choices, I will withhold my love from you. Christ’s love was unconditional. I’ve found my love is conditional.
Perhaps you struggle with that too.So what do we do?
We can start by not treating love like currency. We love others freely, without charge. That doesn’t mean we have to approve of their lifestyle or life choices. It doesn’t mean we have to agree on everything. We can agree to disagree. For example, as a Christian, I believe homosexuality to be a sin. That doesn’t mean I don’t love my friends who are professed homosexuals. You see, they don’t need my approval to be homosexuals. Withholding my love from them doesn’t convince them to change their mind. It stonewalls them and pushes them away.
If you don’t believe what I believe, I don’t expect you to agree with me. You don’t need my approval anymore than I need yours. That doesn’t mean we stop loving others. Life has value. Therefore, we treat all life with respect and with love.
At the end of the day, someone who has made a complete mess of their life still needs love. I know I did.
How we live is something each of us have to own. Society judges us by our actions. We are responsible for the consequences. The world looks to see if our professed beliefs align with our executed actions. Christ taught me to love others, regardless. That can be challenging even on my best days. But it doesn’t keep me from trying.
To be clear: Jesus doesn’t approve of our sin. But, by God’s grace, He loves us in spite of it.
Press on, keep the faith.