There is a part of us, even as followers of Jesus, that bristles at the commands of God because they always expect more than we want to give, take us to people who aren’t easy to love, and ask us to do what we think we cannot ever accomplish.
“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).
So get used to that, and you’ll learn what true love really is. It is outside of yourself, your heart, your feelings, and your definition.
I either know about the God I seek from my own experience and insights, from the meanings which I assign to history or nature—that is, from within myself—or I know about him based on his revelation of his own Word. Either I determine the place in which I will find God, or I allow God to determine the place where he will be found. If it is I who say where God will be, I will always find there a God who in some way corresponds to me, is agreeable to me, fits in with my nature. But if it is God who says where he will be, then that will truly be a place that at first is not agreeable to me at all, that does not fit so well with me (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, http://www.swordofthespirit.net/bulwark/august2013p7.htm).
Let me summarize this and make it very simple. If you like every single person you love … if you enjoy every loving action your conscience is telling you to do … if all is roses and rainbows and fuzzy teddy bears in your life of loving others … then you’re not loving God’s way but your way.
If, however, love isn’t always agreeable to you, but you do it anyway …
If disciplining children is hard and truly at times hurts you more than it hurts them …
If discussing your friend’s bad behavior makes you uncomfortable but you do it anyway …
If you remain committed to a marriage where you feel like you are doing all the work …
If volunteering at church or in the community is more hassle than you were looking for but you hang in there …
If you make your pet peeves your problem instead of everyone else’s problem …then you are truly practicing love.
You are truly following Jesus.
PRAYER: Dear Jesus, I am not always easy to love. Yet you promise that you always love me, no matter what. Fill me with your love so much that I can love others like you love me. Amen.
FURTHER MEDITATION: 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. In some way God is pictured as then treating them the same cruel way that they want to treat others.
It’s that important to God. People are that important. All people, not just you. But also all people, including you.
From the very first second Jesus gave you the command to love, he gave you the promise that he loves you. Your love for others is made possible by Jesus’ love for you. Pray about that today. Pray with thanks to Jesus. Pray about the people he wants you to love.