A classic Peanuts cartoon shows Lucy convincing Linus that he can’t be a doctor because he doesn’t love mankind. He clarifies by exclaiming, “I love mankind. It’s people I can’t stand.”
We pray for world peace, cheer for our kids’ sports teams, strive for harmony in our family, and support our church but then … condemn church leaders who didn’t consider our opinion to be the best, get irritated at family members whose plans conflict with ours, blame the coach who didn’t play our kid as much as the others, and generally decide to be loving toward some people but unloving toward the ones whose viewpoints differ from ours.
Humanity is easy to love because it’s not personal. But when humanity has a face, when the world doesn’t just float in space as a perfectly spherical and harmless planet but it gets personal and steps on our toes, that changes the game for us.
We’re hurt. We’re offended. We’re judgmental. Not loving.
Jesus tells a parable or two about people who aren’t able to extend to others the love, mercy, and forgiveness they themselves expect and receive. It never ends well for those who refuse to love others, and in some way God is pictured as then treating them the same cruel way that they want to treat others.
Here’s something to remember today. Jesus loves everybody.
“For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again” (2 Corinthians 5:14-15).
All humanity is cursed by our sins. Sin separates everybody from God. However, God found a way to save everybody from death by his Son Jesus, a substitute who died for all people. “God so loved the world” (John 3:16).
On the cross, in Jesus Christ, God’s justice and anger punished all sinners. All. Sinners.
This truth makes such a big difference for your friendships and relating to other people. Especially the difficult people, broken relationships, and, yes, even your enemies.
Jesus loves the person who drives slowly in the left lane. Jesus loves the contractor who messed up your house. Jesus loves your dad who wasn’t there for you. Jesus loves your ex who blames you for everything. Jesus loves your friend who let you down. Jesus loves the hacker who stole your identity. Jesus died for them, too.
The next time (it’ll happen soon, believe me) you have difficulty loving a person, just remember these words: “Jesus loves everybody. Even me.”
PRAYER: Dear Jesus, since you love everybody, I can love them, too. Thank you for loving even me. Amen.
FURTHER MEDITATION: Use the PRAY acronym.
- Praise (tell God what you appreciate about his love for all)
- Repent (tell God about your sins of selective love, trust in his promises of forgiveness that applies to everyone and therefore it is yours, too)
- Ask (make a list of people in your life who are difficult to love, remember that Jesus loves them, ask for his love to compel you to love them, too)
- Yield (plan your spiritual next steps when you encounter these people who are difficult to love, and practice saying, “Jesus loves everybody,” as a reminder)