Don’t hurt me no more! Such a terrible song to get stuck in your head but it does bring us to today’s topic. Love is the foundation of the Bible. From cover to cover, the entirety of the story is a love story. Everything from creation all the way through Revelations and the rapture.
God LOVED Adam and Eve and wanted to be with them. God LOVED Abraham and chose him to build the nation of Israel. God LOVED David. And He LOVED us so much that He sent Jesus here to be the ultimate sacrifice to pay for our sins so that we could be with Him for eternity.
Everything Jesus taught was about love. Either loving God or loving those around you. He tells the perfect tale of the Good Samaritan. Samaritans and Israelites were’t exactly friends. The Israelites looked down on the Samaritans and thought of themselves as being superior. But one day, a Jewish man had been beaten, robbed and left for dead on the side of the road. Several of his fellow Jews walked past him, going as far as crossing to the other side of the road to avoid him. Then a Samaritan came across him and he loaded him on his donkey and took him to an inn to recover (Luke 10:25-37)
He went about and healed countless people because He loved them. When He encountered a leper, Jesus actually touched the man! He could have healed him from a distance, but He actually chose to show this man the love that no-one else had for a long time and He touched him (Matt. 8:2-4). He showed the man love by giving him something that we all need and that is to feel human. Other people wouldn’t have shown that kind of love to a leper.
Jesus encountered a Samaritan woman (again they shouldn’t get along so well) and He let her know that not only did He know everything about her, but He wasn’t going to condemn her for living with a man that wasn’t her husband (John 4:4-26) A woman caught having an affair was set to be stoned. The Pharisees brought her to Jesus, hoping to catch Him in a trap and He showed her love by gently convincing the men not to harm her with the simple phrase “Let anyone of you who is without sin throw the first stone.” And then tells the woman to “Go and sin no more.” (John 7:53-8:11) without pointing out her sins.
Perhaps one of the most important examples of Jesus’ love comes at the end of His earthly life. John points out that Judas had been stealing from the purse (John 12:6) and I’m sure that Jesus would have known. One of His closest friends, a disciple that He had chosen, would betray Him. Of course, Jesus knew this was going to happen and knew who would betray Him. He still washed Judas’ feet. He still ate a meal with Him. He still broke bread and had the first communion with him. Even though Judas was going to help have Jesus killed, Jesus loved Judas. (John 13:1-17, Luke 22).
Jesus knew that each person that He encountered had sin in their life. He knew that each person would continue to have sin in their life. He didn’t seek out the perfectly religious to be around, instead he found the people who needed Him the most and He spent His time with them, trying to teach them how to live their lives in a way that shows honor and love to God and the people around them.
When asked what the greatest commandment was, Jesus responded “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matt. 22:36-40).
So what does this mean for us? I’m not sure about anywhere else in the world, but here in America, we have a very heated political environment. There are people on every end of the spectrum for each issue that is out there. Abortion, medical insurance, gun laws, social security, military usage, spending, etc. And with such radically different values, discussions can quickly boil over into full on fights. Sometimes verbal, sometimes physical.
As followers of Christ, we are called to love each and every person. Jesus may not have agreed with the choices of many of the people He encountered, but that didn’t stop Him from showing them love and compassion. He didn’t call them out for being a sinner. He didn’t tell them to get away from Him because He was bothered by their beliefs or lifestyle, He simply loved them anyway. And He tells us to do the same.
It doesn’t matter if someone is gay, transgender, pro life, pro choice, pro guns, anti guns. Each person we encounter is a person that is loved by God. We may disagree with what they believe, but we can still be respectful. We don’t have to shout that they will being going to hell or any other ridiculous insults, we can simply agree to disagree and respect the fact that they may choose to live differently than us. There is a saying that goes “Don’t judge someone because they sin differently than you.” Guess what, you’re not living a perfect and sin free life either! But Jesus still chose to love you and still wants a relationship with you.
Instead of yelling at the driver ahead of you when they’re not moving at a green light, take a moment and remember that Jesus loves them too. When a restaurant messes up your meal, don’t fly off the handle. Be polite and let them know that something is wrong, mistakes happen. When you see someone in need of a meal, take a moment and spend a few minutes inside that fast food place and talk to them while they eat the meal you bought them.
There are countless things that we can do to show love and most of them really don’t cost us anything. At most, maybe a few dollars or a few minutes of our time, but that kindness and love can change a life forever. That lady with a couple of screaming kids in line ahead of you may be going through something terrible. She may not have the energy to get her kids to calm down. She probably doesn’t need you to make snide remarks so that she can hear you. The coworker who is always a little behind on their work may be in a situation where they don’t know where to go or who to turn to and they are desperate for some kind of help outside of work.
The point is, that everyone deserves kindness and love. Especially the people that are the hardest for us to love. If you only show love to the people that are nice to you, what have you really done? Taking the time to show love to people who get on our nerves, who have wronged us or others in some way, who may seem like they aren’t deserving of love, who are different than us in some way that makes us uncomfortable, that is the true test of where we are in our faith!
Take a moment this week to show someone the love that Christ has shown us. Even if it’s just offering a kind smile to a stranger that looks like they could use one themselves.