I Love You... If
The last few weeks I have been struggling with a concept that comes from living on planet earth. I try and struggle to be above and beyond the chains that hold us down from achieving a true love and trust in Christ, but as we all know — it is very hard. I know that most people do not have the same understanding of God that I do. I know that I trust in Him to love me and help me when I do not have the strength to do what it is I need to do. He loves me in spite of my sinful and weak nature, and if He loves me, He is able to love everyone and in turn, if He can love the murderer and rapist surely He can love me. God loves us in spite of the fact that we are screw ups; He loves us in spite of the fact that we hung His Son on the cross. He loves us absolutely, unconditionally and perfectly.
And, that is where we humans and God differ every day. We love each other…if. If you fit in a mold of what I believe you should be — I will love you. If you have a good job — I will love you. If you don’t raise your voice and act as I believe you should — I will love you. The point I am trying to make is that mostly all human beings set conditions to their love and faithfulness to each other. But, I am telling you the truth today — we are to love in spite of what people do to others and to us.
I know it is hard to imagine a world with love, but it is not a stretch of the imagination to see a world without love. Do we love murderers? Do we love rapists? Do we love terrorists, pedophiles and homosexuals? We, who are Christians, say that we believe in Christ but when we are confronted with a homosexual in the room, most of us will shy away and not talk to that individual. We will say to ourselves that they are sinners and they are going to hell and we judge our fellow human being in the place of God. And, then it is no wonder that people look upon us who call each other Christians as the worse type of human being, and if the truth be told — we are the bigger sinner! We are called to love each other, not only unconditionally, but also absolutely. We are called to love each other perfectly — but, that is hard and sometimes impossible. Most times we are poor examples of our Christian faith when we not only not love nor respect others, we don’t love fellow Christians. We are judgmental and hateful and full of spite. We are the ones who should fear the judgment of God — WE are the ones who know the truth. We are the ones who have supposedly experienced the sacrifice of Christ on our lives, but when we look at any one of our fellow human beings and say — no, I will not love them for this or that, then we have looked upon Jesus and spit in His face while He hung on the cross.
I know that that I have preached this many times, but it bears repeating. This is a great example of what I am trying to express. Jesus did not judge anyone, and the man in this parable who was the “Christian” was the man who was unaccepted and was the person who the rest of society wanted nothing to do with. At that time, a lawyer stood up to put Jesus to the test, saying, Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He said to him, What is written in the law? How do you read? And he answered, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with your entire mind; and your neighbor as yourself. And he said to him, You have answered right; do this, and you will live."
But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, And who is my neighbor? Jesus replied, "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was; and when he saw him, he had compassion, and went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; then he set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, Take care of him; and whatever more you spend I will repay you when I come back. Which of these three, do you think, proved neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers? He said, "The one who showed mercy on him. And Jesus said to him, Go and do likewise.
That message is to all of us: Go and do likewise. We are called to serve, not to be served. We are called to love each other in spite of what others do to us. How many times have we walked by a person that we considered a “sinner” and did not smile at them or give them the time of day? How many times have we looked to the homosexual before us and said: They are sinners and they are going to hell for that action. How many times have we looked to the Muslim world and said: I will hate them for the death and misery that have done to us? How many times have we looked to each other and said: My spouse has cheated on me and betrayed me I cannot love him or her?
Jesus himself dealt with one of His friend’s betrayal. Judas, a man whom Jesus knew for three years, sold Him to the enemy for mere thirty pieces of silver. God’s creation, which He loved so much took His only Son and hung Him on the cross to save the same people who were hanging them there. What a complex equation. Could we love someone enough to give up our child for their salvation?
Christ defeated death and hell for us with His own life. He loved us in spite of all we did to Him. He loved us in spite of all we do to each other. In God’s mind there is no: I love you…If. He desires to save us all — that is why Christ hung on the cross. The only time God has “if” on his lips is when it comes to faith. If we believe in His Son, WE WILL have salvation, but even if we do not believe in Him He believes in us. Even if we do not love Him — He LOVES US!
Paul wrote another interesting passage to the Ephesians: BRETHREN, Christ is our peace, who has made us both one, and has broken down the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law of commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby bringing the hostility to an end. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; for through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built into it for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.
Jesus called us ALL to be saved. We are no longer afar off, we are called to Him and He is continuing to call us to Him. Jesus is the Great Shepherd, and His voice is echoing across the world calling all people to the fold. But, the truth is that all men hear the beckoning of salvation, but very few will accept the gift. We are members of the household of God; we are not members of this world. We, who truly believe in Jesus, are strangers in this world; we are aliens even to most of those individuals who call themselves Christians. When it comes to loving each other, do not have the word “If” in your vocabulary. But, of course, some people do not understand the word love, but that is another story all together.