Tuesday, October 23, 2012

30 Days of Authenticity-Day 15: What's love got to do with it?

"Love others by... 1.) Finding value in every person. 2.) Overcoming self-centeredness. 
3.) Loving people more than being right." ~Pete Wilson

We all have those people.  You know, those people who make you want to go all Kate Gosslin-like.  I know I've experienced that horrid emotion more times than I'd care to share.  I can think of a past acquaintance who used to say that her ex-daughter in-law "sucks the very life out of her." Ironically, I often experience similar thoughts when I think of this very acquaintance.  Let me stress that I'm not proud of that, nor am I proud of any time I felt like I was going reenact an episode of Jon & Kate Plus 8.  Those are definitely not my proudest moments.  I can't stress that enough here.  

Sure, we all have moments like that.  We are human and we will irritate each other, while some of us are simply not compatible with others. There are even some people we just don't understand.  It can be tough to love sometimes. The problem is that we are called to be Christ-like.  And, snarky attitudes about others are not like Christ at all.  So, when we start each new day and deny ourselves to follow Him, that kind of attitude has to die in order to carry the cross of Christ.  We have to genuinely try to overcome this and love one another, no matter what, the way we are called to love.  

Simply put, we've got to do better.  We can't love some and not others.  We can't love only those who laugh at our jokes, dress as we do, and are enjoyable company.  We can't love only those who have status (that's a blog for another time), who share our hobbies, music, and TV shows.  We can't love only those who have money, the latest gadgets, and the easy life.  We can't love only love those who vote as we do, believe as we do, or worship as we do.  

We've got to love those who are even "unlovable" in our eyes.  What is unlovable to you?  The answers could go on forever.  Unfortunately, it won't take long to come up with a mental list of people we deem "unworthy" of our time, much less our love. Maybe you don't think of individuals; rather you have certain groups or labels you deem as unlovable.  Regardless of individual people or groups, the fact that we can compile a list of unlovables is inexcusable.  We cannot call ourselves followers of Christ if we think we have justification to not love everyone authentically.  If there are unlovables in our lives or even in the peripheral view, then we are ineffective.  Let's be honest, if we don't express and exude genuine  unconditional love, then how can we have God in our lives?  How can we share what we don't have?  

There are more than enough scripture references to show how essential love is in the life of a Christian.  The Bible itself is God's love story.  There are more than enough in 1 John alone.  That's where we're camping today.  If you haven't read the entire book in a while, or ever, I challenge you to do so.  You'll be quickly reminded that authentic love isn't optional for us.  For today, let's just look at this: 

"Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us." 1 John 4: 7-12

"God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus.  There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.  And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister." ~1 John 4:16-21

There's really nothing more to say here, but in case it didn't click, we simply cannot follow Christ without love.  Whatever reasons you may have for deeming someone "unlovable," get over them.  Keep in mind that everyone has a story.  Everyone has a road they've walked to lead them to who they are today.  You may or may not know the things that cause your unlovables to be difficult for you to love. It doesn't matter what you know about the people God has sent your way.  If there's someone or some group especially hard for you to honestly love, start with prayer--not for them, but prayer for yourself.  Pray for yourself and your struggle to love first, then pray for them.  Even if you don't see an overnight difference in them, you'll eventually see a difference in yourself if you're praying sincerely.  After all, you could be the very obstacle preventing that love.

We're going to have times when this is easier than others, but we've got to truly love.  We are all God's children and He loves us all, even those we find unlovable.  If God finds value in everyone, then we can too.  When it's hard, we've got to try harder.  Will you commit with me to love authentically?   Let's do what we're commanded to do.  Let's love.  

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