A guy named Matthew recorded what are perhaps Jesus’ most profound and challenging words. It’s often called the Beatitudes, and in one part Jesus is explaining to us that “even pagans can love those who love them back.”
Isn’t that the truth? Sometimes I encounter someone who is, well, let me use one guy’s own words, “People either love me or hate me. And nobody loves me.” I actually like the guy but I’ve met others who I just could not find any aspect that allowed me to appreciate who they were.
Because God does so with us, we too are to love those who simply are not loveable.
What sometimes happens, if we’re lucky, is we find someone who is difficult to love, and WHEN we see or hear something that we like, we move toward civility. And then we pat ourselves on the back. “Wow,” we commend ourselves. “That is such a difficult person. I don’t know anyone who likes her, yet I can be kind to her. I’m a pretty good person.”
Truth is, you don’t need God, or faith to do that. You don’t even need to be a decent human being to do that. When people do what we want or say, or when they look or sound how we want, well, even a pagan can love someone like that.
We are to love as God loves. God loves His enemies. God loves those who hate Him. God loves those who try to convince others that He doesn’t exist.
God does not love us because of who we are.
God loves us because of who He is.
God is love.
The reality is, loving our enemies, doing good to those who persecute us, praying for the good of those who persecute us is a supernatural gift. It is not something that we can do on our own. Yet without this kind of love taking place our world, our civilization is doomed.
Doing what’s normal is not good enough.