It’s really not as hard as we make it out to be.
Somewhere along the way of arguing over gay marriage and abortion rights and what is and is not acceptable to believe or think as a Christian, we forget the most important things we are asked to do:
1. Love God above all else.
2. Love your neighbor as yourself.
If you watched my vlog here yesterday, then you know we are kicking off an eight weeks series of getting back to the basics and just plain old loving each other – no matter what.
No matter if you don’t agree with the way homosexuals choose to live their lives. No matter if you think those who have had abortions should burn in hell. No matter if you choose to homeschool and your neighbor chooses to send her kids to public school.
Yes. Love. No matter what.
To love God above all and your neighbor as yourself is the “Great Commandment” while the “Great Commission” is to go and make disciples of all nations.
But you know what?
I think it’s really, really difficult to make disciples of all nations if we don’t first engage in relationship and meet others right where they are.
I don’t know about you but no one has ever changed my mind by passionately beating my head over and over again with why they’re right and I’m wrong. Especially someone I don’t even know.
I’m not suggesting we can’t engage in a healthy discussion but what happens often among passionate believers who sometimes hide behind “standing on truth” is it becomes about who wins. In this case, the answer is no one.
I’m also not suggesting truth is not important because oh, my. Is it ever.
But truth must come later – behind love.
Love dials the phone but truth hangs it up.
The most perfect example of this is when Jesus meets Zacchaeus. I love the Message version:
Then Jesus entered and walked through Jericho. There was a man there, his name Zacchaeus, the head tax man and quite rich. He wanted desperately to see Jesus, but the crowd was in his way—he was a short man and couldn’t see over the crowd. So he ran on ahead and climbed up in a sycamore tree so he could see Jesus when he came by.
When Jesus got to the tree, he looked up and said, “Zacchaeus, hurry down. Today is my day to be a guest in your home.” Zacchaeus scrambled out of the tree, hardly believing his good luck, delighted to take Jesus home with him. Everyone who saw the incident was indignant and grumped, “What business does he have getting cozy with this crook?”
Zacchaeus just stood there, a little stunned. He stammered apologetically, “Master, I give away half my income to the poor—and if I’m caught cheating, I pay four times the damages.” – Luke 19:1-8
As a tax collector, Zacchaeus was not such a well-liked man. In fact, I’ve read commentary that he was even particularly greedier than most tax-collectors.
He wasn’t Mr. Popularity and perhaps rightly so.
But Jesus being Jesus, He decides to be a bit radical. Instead of telling Zacchaeus why he’s so terrible and cause him to run far, far away by making him feel like the lowest of low, he asks if he would host him for dinner that evening. To say it shocked the crowd would be an understatement.
“What business does he have in getting cozy with this crook?” they said.
Now let’s think about those who are outcasts in our society . . .
Homosexuals. Adulterers. Divorcees. Drug addicts. Alcoholics. Prostitutes. Those who have chosen abortion.
These are our modern-day tax collectors. These are the people who tend to be up in the trees.
When we love those who are easy to love, we prove nothing.
But when we love those who can be difficult to love or whose lifestyle or choices we don’t approve of?
Now that’s loving God above all else.
Join us here on Thursday to discuss practices we can implement to encourage us to love God above all else . . .