Skip to main content

Whether We Like It Or Not

It's been a while since I've blogged, and I could blame a lot of things, but the most honest answer may be that I just didn't have anything that I needed to say until now.  It feels good to be writing again, not like riding a bike, more like picking up an old guitar again only to find your callouses have gone and your fingers sting with pain.  It might be awkward, but darn it, I'm gonna do this!

I had a conversation recently that made me think about two words, love and like.  Someone I know is having a difficult time loving a person that has appeared in their life.  I say they are having a difficult time loving this person, because I'm pretty sure they certainly don't like the person.  To hear my friend talk, it sounds as though their dislike of this person is bleeding into a spirit of not loving this person.  It got me thinking:

Should our like for someone ever determine our love for them?

In the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke specifically), Jesus is asked what he considers the greatest commandment.

Singular.

Ever the rebel, he responds with two.  "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength... and the other one is like it, Love your neighbor as yourself."  Everything, he says, rests upon these two commands.  And it's not like he says, "Love the Lord your God... in the safest, most comfortable, least sacrificial ways possible" or "Love your neighbor as yourself... unless that guy's a total jerk or weird or annoying, then forget it, treat him however you want."


Loving God requires we get over ourselves.

Loving our neighbors requires we get past the "like" factor.

Jesus says these two commands--notice they are not suggestions--are closely related.  Why would loving God have anything to do with loving my jerky, weird, annoying neighbors?  Well, it has something to with a little thing called imago dei (pronounced ee-MAH-go day).  It's Latin for "the image of God," and it is something Christians believe every person is born with.  This doesn't necessarily mean we physically resemble God (we all look pretty different after all), rather it speaks to something deep within us, a thread that runs from God through all of humanity.

This thread is a uniting force that connects you and me and everyone who has ever walked this earth.  It's something built into the very fiber of our being that immediately makes us recognizable as belonging to God.  It's why the scriptures refer to God as Father and Mother.  Guess what that makes us?

Family.

Now I know that word is not a positive one to everyone.  I know that families can be ugly, messed up, abusive, broken, and the last thing in the world you may want.  You may think family is the last place to find Love.  But we're not talking about a family as we know it.  We're talking about God's family.

And like it or not, you are a beloved child of God.

And like it or not, that makes us family.  In God's family, that means we love each other, wholly, fully, and unconditionally.

Whether we like it or not.

So find the "neighbor" in your life, the one who you really, really don't like.  Find it in your heart to love them anyways.  Love them in a way that goes beyond safe or comfortable and instead becomes sacrificial.  Make it mean something.  When you feel it in your heart, mind, soul, and strength, you're probably doing it right.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

On Uniting Methodists: A "Fixed and Free" Romans 14 Church

This past week, the local church I serve, Lovers Lane UMC, hosted a gathering of area clergy and lay leaders interested in learning more about a movement called "Uniting Methodists." Leading the presentation and ensuing discussion were Rev. Rachel Baughman of Oak Lawn UMC in Dallas, and Rev. Dr. Stan Copeland of Lovers Lane.

I respect both of these leaders immensely; Rachel was actually my children's pastor when I was in the 6th grade at W.C. Martin UMC in Bedford, TX, and Stan has been my boss and mentor for the better part of the last decade. That respect was shared by the room as far as I could tell, and it was their presence together on stage that likely sparked more than a little curiosity amongst those who came. 

The sight of them sitting together on stage perhaps sums up Uniting Methodists in one image. On the left (literally and figuratively), a young, progressive, woman with clerical collar, black plastic glasses, and dreads pulled neatly into a bun. On the righ…

Ode to a Catheter

One year ago today, Scott and I woke up on a Sunday, but it wasn't our usual Sunday. Sundays usually are a whirlwind of a day. We wake up early, scramble to get ready in order to get to church for our 7:45 a.m. meeting with the rest of the staff.

This Sunday was different though.

I hadn't slept well in anticipation for what would happen this Sunday morning. I tried my best to be well rested, but my mind was going. They say to relax because stress isn't good, but by golly, a lot was weighing on this day. We woke up--a little awkward silence as we got ready. We tried our best to act relaxed and cool---while inwardly, stressing out beyond belief, scared, nervous, and feeling like we could cry at any moment.

We pulled up to the fertility clinic for our third IUI procedure while praying over and over again, "please let this work, please let this work..."

I clung to Psalm 17:6 "I am praying to you because I know you will answer, O God. Bend down and listen as I p…

A Little Ice, A Lot of Water, A Whole Heap of Cynicism

Scott here.  I've seen a lot of concern over the wasting of water in the now infamous ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.  If you don't know what that is, welcome to the internet, you must be new here.  Google it and come back, we'll wait.

Anyways, I've seen figures suggesting that around 1.2 million Americans have participated in the Challenge, using approx. 5 gallons of water each, meaning somewhere in the ballpark of 6 million gallons of water have been used so far (as of two days ago, so that number has grown).  Sounds like a staggering number, and it is a significant amount of water, to be sure.   And if you donated to ALSA, but chose to forgo the ice bucket to conserve water, I think that is admirable, and I applaud your decision to use the Challenge as a way to shed light on water scarcity at the same time.

But before we begin criticizing an effective fundraising practice by lamenting the waste of water, I wonder if we are willing to examine our own daily practices and c…