“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good.” Romans 12:9 NLT
I have a confession to make. It’s not an easy one it’s not a fun one, but it is one that must be made.
I have pretended to love others… I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this particular act. We all do it, we don’t like to admit it but we do. The real problem is many times when I’m pretending to love others, I’m fooling myself as much as I’m pretending. Fool myself into believing that I am showing love to people.
Aside from the fact that I am taking this weeks sermon text from Romans 12, there are other things that have brought this revelation to my being. Wow that sounds appropriately mystical, my being, anyway, in the past few weeks I have found that my tolerance level for a large group of people who are of a different political and social persuasion than I am getting less and less. In case you were wondering, and were unable to tell, I’m not really in the right camp as it were for many of the people I grew up with and who I am friends with. I know that many of my friends, former co workers, pastors and leaders are on one side of things, I also know that there was a time when I was there too, mainly because I was supposed to be, if I had any prayer of moving forward and moving up in certain circles in my chosen profession well there are things you are supposed to be, and a left leaning guy, that embraces some aspects (not all) but some aspects of socialism, who finds himself consistency voting on the Democrat side of the ticket isn’t one of them. The thing is I have come to the realization that at the time I did hold a lot of those things as important, and while I would never really have branded myself as conservative, it seemed to make sense. As I’ve gotten older, and gone through life. As I have studied scripture, and as I have looked at history my views and leanings have changed.
I find some people hard to understand. Many times I get a sense that a lot of the people from my past would like to see the President fail, would like to take the New Pope to task for not holding the things they hold dear as important. Many of them seem to think more of their right to own a gun, than they do of the lives that are consistently taken by the same weapons. These same people call for a return to the way it was, to prayer in schools, to a melding of church and state to unfettered investment and capitalism at the expense of what I view as common sense.
BUT and here is where I realize I have been pretending to love people. Just as I get upset when a person judges my faith based on my political leanings. I have done the same thing based on theirs. I have pretended to love them. I have pretended to respect their point of view. I have pretended to be okay with what I view as their narrow view of life, and scripture and Christianity. Here’s the problem in my passing judgment on them as narrow minded, I have shown my own narrow mindedness. I have taken delight in pointing out where they are wrong, or where they are posting things as fact that come strait from satirical news sources. I have looked at them as un-enlightened just as they may look at me. I have forgotten that Love is more than just saying it. Instead of taking them to task, instead of allowing the smug thought’s that come to my mind, instead of writing them off I should talk to God for them. I should love them like Jesus did. That’s what we are supposed to do. Countless times in the New Testament we find Jesus loving people where they were, not just geographically, but where they are in their journey. He didn’t give a set of hoops to jump through for His love to be accepted. He didn’t tell people to be worthy before he reached out to them. He just loved them as they were, weather they were a prostitute, a tax collector, a Samaratin woman, a untouchable leper…a traitor. Jesus loved people. He cried for people, he got angry at people, and he died for people, people that didn’t agree with him, that didn’t look like him, that didn’t believe like he did. He died for people that were broken, people that were rich, for people that’s what he did.
One of my favorite pictures of Jesus comes from the woman that the pastors wanted to stone because she broke the rules. At the end of the whole altercation, after ignoring them, drawing in the ground, and even agreeing with what the rules they were talking about were broken and that the punishment was legitimate, he does two things. He puts a condition on their being able to meet out said punishment. If you haven’t ever sinned have at. Grab those rocks and start chucking them. He then looks at her asks where her accusers were, she looks up and realizes they are gone, and he says something that is very important. Neither do I condemn you. This is important because He had the ability to do so. He was without sin. He could have picked up the rocks but he didn’t He loved her, didn’t condem her and then made one request. Don’t do it any more. That’s huge. He didn’t set up a 12 step program, He didn’t give her an accountability partner, He didn’t brand her for life. He simply told her to stop. He loved her, and trusted that the love he showed, that the encounter she had with him would be enough.
I have not done that. I have been pretending to love people, attempting to enlighten them, attempting to show them how it should be, trying to point out why I’m right and they’re wrong… Who cares. What matters is this.
1. Jesus died for whoever…
2. Jesus death and resurrection was a game changer for all of humanity right where they were not where they should have been or where could have been
3. As a Christ Follower it’s my job to be like Jesus to love people where they are without strings
4. If I will do that, if I will show my faith as well as sharing my faith with others, and then trust that an encounter with Jesus will make a difference, I won’t find it necessary to defend my side of things, to prove that I’m right and they are wrong, no matter who it is, Republican, Democrat, Liberal Conservative, Strait, LGBT, Right or Left, Evangelical or Not. If I show the LOVE of Christ, and refuse to compromise on what is true, then get out of the way then that will be enough.
So there it is I am sorry for pretending to Love. It may take a while for God and I to deal with this issue, and I know that once we complete this project He’ll start another but that’s what it is to be a Christ Follower…