This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. (John 15:12-14)
Relate: Who is the hardest person for you to love? Stop right here for a second, and think about that question. Who is it?
Does it have to do with physical appearance? Is there something about the way they look that you just can’t stand? Now, I know that pretty much each and every one of us are probably saying right now, “Of course not.” Are we really being honest with ourselves? There have been plenty of riots and protests over the past couple years for the very reason that physical appearance is still a very real issue for far too many people. Racism is very much alive. I remember sitting in Dunkin Donuts back in the States and the news channel was talking about the “Black Lives Matter” protests happening at the time in New York City. There were two elderly couples at a table and one of the older men said, “You ever notice that every time they don’t get there way we end up seeing rioting and protesting?” The other older gentleman (and I use the term very loosely) shook his head and responded, “These blacks are sore losers, aren’t they?”
When I asked myself the question, who is the hardest person for me to love, that old man was the one who immediately appeared in my mind. I have to admit that I had a very satisfying mental image of punching that guy right in the nose when he spouted such garbage. Instead I literally turned around and walked out of there before I said something I might regret later on. Last January I was in the city of Diyarbakır. The way I saw those occupying police and army treat the local Kurdish population puts them right up there on my list too. Then I met some of them. They are mostly just kids fulfilling their mandatory service carrying out the evil orders of those above them. Some of them, though are racist to the core against the Kurds and those tend to rise to authority. People who still harbor such ambition and ignorance and racism… it is hard for me to love.
React: I wonder how many people would have my name on their list of people hard to love? I would like to think it is nobody but I do tend to be a person of strong opinions that I don’t always keep to myself. Just being an American here in Turkey earns me undeserved enmity from some neighbors I once thought friends. Thanks Uncle Sam. Because of my faith, there are a many others here who might have me on their list. Because I’m not a Republican and I speak out on behalf of the refugees, there’s probably quite a few back in the States who do as well.
One person whose list I certainly deserve to be on would be Jesus. Over and over again I have failed Him. Time and again I have made promises to Him that I could not keep. I have proven myself quite consistently to be an adulterous bride. What is worse, none of this took Jesus by surprise. He knew, getting into the relationship how often I would fail Him. He understood right from the start how faithless I would be. Yet He loved me anyways. In fact, He loved me so much He took on Himself the penalty for my faithlessness. He died as the punishment I deserved. If Jesus loved me that much even after all the times I have, and continue to fail Him, shouldn’t I show that same type of love? Shouldn’t I show it even to ignorant old men whose only crime against me was making stupid comments I happened to overhear?
God, show me how to love like You do. I am so quick to take offense. It is so easy for me to get upset. I admit that I often have prejudged people based on their appearance. Forgive me. Help me to love. Help me to show the same generosity of spirit that You have shown me. Help me to walk and talk and live with the same grace You have lavished on me. Help me to see others with Your heart.