Does the Church love you?
If not, shame on them. If so, big deal… they have to, right?
God said “Love thy neighbor” in Deuteronomy, and Jesus reiterated it as the second most important commandment. So if the church loves you, it’s not necessarily because you’re all that lovable. In fact, Jesus made it even worse when he told his followers to love the unlovable. That means the best Christians out there are the ones looking for the ugly, smelly, despicable people to love. Now do you start feeling like the life of the pity party?
But how did Jesus do it? Did he go around healing and feeding people, and then go home, flop in his La-Z-Boy and watch SportsCenter? I think the obvious answer is no. (Jesus quit watching ESPN when it got too sexy.)
Jesus partied with people! That was his greatest detractor-fodder. He hung out with the people the religious types couldn’t stand. Do you think Jesus just went to these shin-digs so he could keep on healing and feeding people? (Well, he did turn water into wine at a wedding party, but he was pretty reluctant.) I think he enjoyed being around them, and he wanted them to know it.
The truth is, love is a many-faceted thing. If you want to completely love somebody, you need to encourage them, spend time with them, meet their needs, give them hugs, show them you’re committed to them, give them gifts, etc, etc. When did the church decide that “need-meeting” was the be-all end-all?
I can’t stand tailgaters. The other day I was in traffic, and started to think my usual thoughts about the carelessness of the drivers around me. But then I decided to find a way to like them instead. There was a guy on my rear who was close enough to reach out the window, grab my bumper and turn off his engine to save gas. But I decided to think, “Maybe he’s late for dinner, and he doesn’t want to be rude to his wife by letting it get cold. What a good guy.” Now, for the record… if you follow people by less than a two second gap, please stop. It’s very dangerous and annoying. But on the other hand, if you’re surrounded by people who are getting on your nerves, try finding ways to like them for a change.
And let’s challenge ourselves, as the Church, to stop loving people in such a merit-badge, brownie points kind of way. Trust me, they can tell.
Next week on The Core Blog: “Like the Lord thy God” and “Like thy enemy”