Saturday, November 16, 2019

Loving People Right where They Are

    Christianity is a way for living life that says we are to love others just the way God loves us.  St. John in his Gospel quotes Jesus as saying, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15:14)

    So, how does God love us?  The answer is unconditionally, just as we are, even while we are less than perfect according to the mind and will of God.  St. Paul expresses this in Romans 5:8 thusly, “God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  This is the immense and unqualified love of God for each one of us.  

     There is, however, a phenomena very prevalent in some quarters today that equates not agreeing with someone with not loving them.   For instance, this is often the case in the ongoing homosexual debate in which Christians are stereotyped as homophobic.  There are surely Christians who are indeed homophobic, just as there are plenty of non-Christians who are homophobic, but the fact is that the Christian is commanded not to be!   It is simply un-Christian to hate anybody and not want the best for them.  Jesus gives us examples of this throughout the Gospels; two good ones are the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4) and the woman brought to Jesus who had been caught in adultery (John 8).

    One of the marks of the Kingdom of God is loving people right where they are, regardless their actions, beliefs, behaviors, sins and dysfunctions, and regardless of whether we agree with them of not.  This is the way, of course, that God loves us, but  if you know God, then you know He loves us too much to leave us where we are- This is what Jesus is all about.

     By the Spirit of God in us, we can love with this same Godly unconditional love.  This is part and parcel to the authentic Christian journey.  In our fallen humanity, however, this is a tough road to learn to walk.  Albeit imperfectly, I strive to love people right where they are, want the best for them, and be their friend in the truest sense of the word.  I think my homosexual friends will largely affirm this in me.  One of the great freedoms to be found in Christ is the power and wisdom to love people with whom one disagrees and to love them right where they are.