Learning to Love
I recently had a chat with Joe, our web developer, about how people today are so strongly focused on being “right” that they completely forget how to love and respect people. A lot of people tend to notice all of the rules when they read the Bible. Unfortunately, it’s easy for people to get stuck there; to focus on making sure to follow the rules in order to “qualify” to be a Christian. They even go out of their way to make sure that others are following those rules exactly the same way they are. If you do that, though, you completely miss the heart of the message. God’s heart for us is to love each other “Love your neighbor as yourself…There is no commandment greater than these” Mark 12:31 He said loving Him and loving others are the greatest commandments — not following a set of rules. The heart behind those rules are so that we can have guidelines on how to best love God and to love others. If you are stealing, cheating, lying, etc. to others, you aren’t loving them.
Look back at how Jesus reacted with the adulterous woman who was about to be stoned to death. What did he do? In John 8:7 He said “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” So powerful! He didn’t say, “Yeah, you’re right. She sinned. Go ahead and stone her to death. Following the rules is the most important thing.” Ha! Instead, he threw it right back at them. He knew that none of them — none of us — are perfect. He didn’t ask us to be. He didn’t ask us to make sure we’re being perfect or make sure everyone around us is either. In fact, he said in Matthew 7:1 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” We weren’t called to be judgers or accusers; we are called to be lovers. We are to come along side each other and build each other up in love — whether we agree with them on everything or not.
Jesus hung out with tax payers, thieves, adulterers, and murderers. Yet, he treated them in love.
Matthew 5:1–12: (NIV)
Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them. He said:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”