The hardest thing about following Jesus is loving the ones he loves.
We all have them, at work, at school, in our circle of extended acquaintances – those people we just can’t get on with. There is usually no real reason for it, just a sort of a ‘like’ block – you just don’t like them and they (usually) don’t like you. It’s no one’s fault, it’s not a result of a fight or argument, it’s what people call a ‘personality clash.’ You can still be polite but you just can’t bring yourself to like them.
But you’ve got to love them.
Racism is something I have never understood. I really can’t make out why the colour of your skin can make you more or less worthy, more or less a person. It’s something I just don’t get. Maybe it’s my upbringing (although in a small town in North Wales in the 70’s they weren’t many people who didn’t have my skin colour), maybe it’s the people I’ve met along the road, I don’t know but I just don’t understand the racist mind. I would go as far as to say I hate racism. I hate what racists stand for, what they believe, their narrow minded view of humanity. I want to hate the racists too.
But I’ve got to love them.
Pedophiles! To quote most of society – they are the scum of the earth. Especially the ones the trawl for and then train young children. The very thought abhors me. Our justice system cannot be too harsh on them – there is NO justification for what they do and I hate the thought of even one free to continue their evil ways.
But I’ve got to love them.
Westboro Baptist Church, The ACL and various other bigots. I hate what they stand for, I hate the fact they use the name of Jesus to justify all their very unChristlike behaviour. I hate that they have influenced the media so much that most people think that every Christian is just as bigoted and hate filled as they are. As institutions I loathe them – but the individuals that make up those institutions –
Well, I’ve got to love them.
By now you’re getting the idea I hope. It may be a difficult concept but you should be catching on –
Murderers – hate what they do – but I’ve got to love them
Wife beaters – hate what they do – but I’ve got to love them
Most politicians – as shallow as a dried up pond – but I’ve got to love them
Homophobes – all people are different, get over it – I’ve got to love them
English rugby fans – I don’t hate them but they are a bunch of misguided, self righteous, know it alls – but I’ve got to love them
I could make the list a very long one and after each category I would have to put – but I’ve got to love them.
This is what makes following Jesus so hard. It is not an easy option, it does not make you a soft person. It is one of the most difficult things imaginable – Jesus calls us to love the people that every fibre in our being is telling us to hate. Those that we consider the lowest of the low – there we are called to love. Those who hold the complete opposite views to us – we are called to love. Those who would use terrorism to wipe out what we believe in and stand for – we are called to love.
They are all children of God, they are all loved and valued by him. We may not see their worth but he does. If one person counts, then everybody counts!
It may be hard for us to understand and even harder for us to do but we are called to love everyone.
And loving them means we should try and show them what it means to be a follower of Christ – that they, who ever they are, have value and worth. That Christ died for them as much as for us and that they, too, can be accepted. We may not like what they stand for, or what they do but we should love them, selflessly, as Christ does.
Oh, following Christ is far harder than not following him. Jesus is not selective – he loves everyone.
Now I take strength in the fact that Jesus never said we have to like everyone, just love them. That I can try to do….