Do everything in love. 1 Corinthians 16:14
Christians are often not well liked. You know it and I know it, but we hate to admit it. Many people look at followers of Jesus and find us to be weird, judgmental, and out of touch. We’re not that way—well, not all of us—but often times this is how we are perceived. We can thank the outspoken, minority of believers for that. Or we can thank ourselves for not being outspoken in kind and approachable ways. Either way, most people in the world have a view of us that isn’t flattering and isn’t accurate. At least, not accurate of who we should be. It may, very unfortunately, be accurate of who we are.
It’s not that I think the world should like us. It’s not that I want Christianity to be popular. I think a quick reading through the Gospels will confirm that Jesus warned that this wouldn’t be the case. The real issue I have is with why people dislike us.
It seems that all too often Christians are known only for the things we are against, rather than things we are for. I am certainly not belittling the things we are against and the moral stances we are not willing to just accept. But it saddens me that for many people in the world, these are the only glimpses they get of followers of Jesus. And so they associate us with picketing, boycotting and this bizarre obsession we have with email forwarding when it comes to moral and social issues.
Honestly, I fear the world has seen these activities as little more than socially acceptable forms of name calling and shunning. The worst part is that these are not the ways Jesus. These are the ways of the world. The Jesus way is to pray for enemies and love them, to eat with those who tend to drag your reputation down. It is to share meals with prostitutes and love the unloved. The way of Jesus is the way of love.
This focus on what divides rather than what we can do to connect and love is a world way and somehow our lust for all things worldly has caused us to forget who we are and how we should act.
If the world decided not to like us because we loved too freely then we would be on to something. As it stands now I think most don’t like us because they don’t see us loving much at all. Paul said to the Corinthian church, “Do everything in love.” Everything. I think that says it all.
I think too much of the way we do things now is with a desire to be right, to justify actions, or maybe just to hear the sound of our own voices. What kind of world would we live in if Christians were accused of loving too much? I can hardly imagine this kind of place.
A bit earlier in Paul’s same letter to the Corinthian church he writes these words:
Follow the way of love… 1 Corinthians 14:1
He could have just as easily wrote, “Follow the way Jesus” because his is the way of love.
Maybe thinking of doing everything in love feels a bit overwhelming. For most of us we haven’t intentionally done anything in love for quite some time! So what about doing something in love today? Some thing with some one who doesn’t typically give us love? Or someone we would not naturally give love to. What kind of ripple affect would that cause? What kind of future acts of love would it inspire in us?
There is really only one way to find out.