Jesus replied: “‘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 neighbour as yourself.’Matthew 22:37-39 (NIV)
Yesterday I was lying in bed, listening to my Spotify and the song, “Same Love” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis came on. And normally I just let the music play, usually I have a good dance or sing, but in this moment, I felt like I was being called to listen closely to the words. The song is about homosexuality, which I will talk about in a future blog post. But, as the song came to the end, “Love is Patient, Love is Kind” were the words that were sang as the music faded out. These words reminded me of what my God is; patient and kind. But is also reminded me of the thing I struggle to show to those around me. It reminded me of the second most important lesson in the Bible, the underlying theme in a large amount of Jesus’ parables, the thing I wished the world would show – LOVE.
LOVE. Different from the love that you feel in romantic relationships. It’s such a hard word and it’s sometimes really hard to show love to people you don’t think you should show it to. People who have hurt you, made you angry or upset, annoyed and frustrated you. But Jesus’ second most important lesson was to love your neighbour as yourself. I have had to face this dilemma multiple times when something hasn’t gone how I have planned it, or someone has hurt me whether it be through a breakup, an argument between mates or just by someone who has not thought about their words before they say them. And still loving them after this has happened is definitely a challenge, honestly.
When life gets hard, I retreat. I put walls up around my heart and I don’t want to let anyone in, especially if I know they’ll challenge me. Maybe it’s because I’m a tad introverted, or maybe it’s just because I’m afraid of anything unfamiliar or potentially messy, but I’m good at pushing away when I feel vulnerable. It can be easy to classify people (sometimes without even realising it) and therefore not love others truly as our neighbours. At these times, it can be easier to withdraw from community when times challenge us instead of building relationships with people who are different than us. If everyone had the same view as us, there would be no argument against it to challenge us, no open conversations.
“It’s not community until someone you don’t like shows up.”
I read this quote yesterday. This simple and powerful quote made me think hard. A lot of the time, it’s easy to want to extend love and mercy to the ones who seem needy and helpless, but it can be so much harder to extend that same love and mercy to the people you don’t see eye to eye with or don’t get on. You’ve got to think of it like this; if someone speaks up about their beliefs or opinions than look nothing like mine, I’m tempted to shut down or push back… but true community looks like pressing in and engaging them.
Sometimes “loving your neighbour” will mean loving those who have been the first to accuse, humiliate or abandon you. 1 John 4:12 puts it really clear one how to be the bigger person, to forgive and to carry on loving. It says, “No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us.” While loving other through heartache or anger, you will bridge a really scary (but conquerable) gap between pain and life.
If there is one thing I have learnt about His love is that it casts out fear. His love draws life. His love is life. God’s love is patient and kind. If He can extend that to me, then I can extend it to everyone else, most importantly those that have hurt me.
Don’t Fear, Only Believe