From the Message paraphrase of the Bible.
You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.
48“In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.”
Today I’m wondering what it looks like to live this way. I’ve been given glimpses into various conflicts in relationships as of late. There is a lot of room to love the people who look, act and believe just like “I” do, whomever the “I” happens to be. But there is often not a lot of grace for those who are or think differently.
Now here is the part that is tricky. When you and I love people and invest in them, even if they’re different in some way or hold to a different belief system, then often you and I become “guilty by association.” This means, if I spend a week loving on and pouring into someone whom I love, but they participate in certain behaviors or different beliefs, I must share in their behaviors and beliefs.
Jesus didn’t care of such things. He was known as “a friend of sinners.” Basically, He got a bad reputation from some of the people He loved.
We HAVE to be able to love and be with others and pour into others who don’t fit our paradigm.
We HAVE to be people who love those we’re culturally not supposed to.
We HAVE to be people whose defining mark is love. This is how people know we follow after Jesus, when we LOVE one another.
LOVE does not equal agreement with. Love does mean, I believe that the way I treat you should always be patient, kind, not envying, not boasting, not proud or rude or self-seeking, not keeping a record of wrong, but, protecting, hoping, trusting and persevering. LOVE does not fail.
When differences collide with love, love wins. The differences are still there, but LOVE speaks to the relationship, not to the differences.
It’s my hope that we’d live this way all of the time. I know I fail to, but it is my prayer I become more like Jesus as I walk with others.
What do you think? Can love and differences exist?