Have you ever heard a sermon in church and thought, I know quite a few people who need to hear this. I thought this yesterday when a sermon was preached about loving the “wrong” people. We were reminded there are no terms and conditions to Jesus’ love. This means there should be no terms and conditions to how we love others. When I was thinking about all the people who needed to hear this message I started to feel convicted. I thought, I guess I need this message, too. Because when Jesus talks about loving the wrong kind of people he doesn’t just mean the people society considers outcasts. Yes, he loved the lepers and the prostitutes but he also loved the tax collectors. In those days, tax collectors knowingly stole from people; this was obviously wrong but Jesus still loved them and forgave them when they repented.
I am naturally an empathetic person. Because I am so empathetic and caring I get angry about all the injustice in the world. Of course God wants me to love people who are victims of racism but He can’t expect me to love racists, right? There’s no way he wants me to love murderers and rapists, right? I think I should stop right here and say loving someone does not mean you agree with them. Being racist is wrong. Murder is wrong. Rape is wrong. I also know, I have not been effected personally by any of these things. But because I am a sensitive person hearing about these things on the news makes me sad and angry. And of course, hearing my friends tell me about the abuse they have suffered makes me even angrier. It is not okay.
“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.” Romans 12: 9-10 NLT (emphasis mine)
Of course, God is not okay with murder or abuse but He is not okay with any sin. All sins are forgivable. I started feeling convicted when I realized loving the “wrong” people doesn’t just mean loving the people who have different political, religious, or moral views than you. It means loving people who are unlovable. I am very good at having empathy for an abuse survivor. I am not good at having empathy for an abuser. I know this is a natural feeling that most people feel but if I want to show Jesus’ love I need to show his love to everyone. Loving the unlovable means loving people who REALLY don’t deserve it.
I am also good at loving people who some legalistic churches may judge. However; I am not good at loving legalistic Christians. I know most of them love God and God loves them but it can be difficult for me because I know so many people who have been hurt by legalism. I wouldn’t say I was hurt by legalism but I was definitely confused about my faith when I went to Texas and realized you can be a Christian and (gasp!) not vote Republican (pretty ironic it was Texas where I learned this). I don’t normally post my political beliefs because I don’t like debates or arguments but it can frustrate me when people say you’re not a Christian if you don’t vote Republican. I, personally, think Jesus cares more about helping people than if gay people should get married or not. However, I realized even though I stopped judging people who don’t attend very conservative churches I reversed my judgment to the people who are attending these churches. I know a lot of people in these churches are kind, loving people. No one is perfect. I’m definitely not. Jesus loves me no matter what. I should love others no matter what.
“We are accustomed to finding a catch in every promise, but Jesus’ stories of extravagant grace include no catch, no loophole disqualifying us from God’s love. Each has at its core an ending too good to be true- or so good that it must be true.”- What’s So Amazing About Grace?, Philip Yancey, p. 52