Our society is a very loud place.
Everyone seems at odds with everyone else in a culture where strong opinions and disagreements are pervasive. Generalizations and stereotypes bog down civil discourse to the point where no one is really willing to listen to anyone else, so they separate into their separate camps and yell at the other side across lines that have been manufactured by broken humanity.
It’s hard to get away from. No matter where we go, there’s someone or some topic that is uncomfortable. Judgment abounds from those who are entitled to speak their opinion on whatever topic has a comment section, which is pretty much all of them these days.
So what can we say when it’s uncomfortable to speak? When it’s uncomfortable to be in a certain place or around certain people, what do we do?
“Love!” People plaster the word everywhere. “Love Trumps Hate” and “Love Never Fails.” They aren’t wrong—love is the answer. Proverbs 10:12 says, “Hatred stirs up quarrels, but love covers all offenses.” But love is a much harder concept to abide by than many people think.
While social issues and politics are important, love puts both on a back burner to first love people for who they are. We love people when we love them for their identity that is not defined by their beliefs but by who God says they are.
What does love look like when we are faced with a community we are at odds with? How do we love those who push us out of our comfort zone?
Paul says in Romans 3:23 that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. We are no better or worse than the people around us, and there’s no escaping those God has put in our path. We are left with a choice of how to respond, and the correct choice will always be love. The people who make us uncomfortable are often the ones who can teach us the most as God strips away our prejudices and preconceived ideas. It’s with people who aren’t like us where we come to understand ourselves and those around us, and really understand what it is to love those who are different than us, and even those who may persecute us.
Jesus is the perfect example of what love looks like on earth. He was always hanging around the crowd of undesirables. The woman at the well was rejected multiple times, but Jesus loved her. He broke the societal norm even just talking with her. He showed how love is possible no matter a person’s past or societal norms. Like Jesus, we must look past the meaningless things that distract us from a person’s underlying humanity and simply love them for who they are. The greatest commandment is to love God the second is to love people. There are no ifs, ands or buts. There is no fine print. Our job is simply to love.
Blog by Sarah Eberwein