As Christians, our lives are a quest. We are on a mission to find our purpose on earth--to live out our lives according to God's will and grand plan for our lives. We read the Bible and pray and worship and attend church and participate in philanthropy and ask for forgiveness. In so doing, we take pride in our good works and hope that we live lives pleasing enough to God to get us into heaven.
How often, though, do we stop doing and going and moving and simply love?
It's called The Golden Rule for a reason, right? We are called to love our neighbors as we would have them love us. We are called to treat others with the utmost respect and fairness. We are called not to judge or out-do or berate or belittle...simply to love.
We love our families, children, friends, pets, and mentors. Why, then, is it so hard for us to love strangers, criminals, liars, the homeless, homosexuals, the terminally ill, people of other races?
Jesus loves EVERYONE. Ceaselessly. Unconditionally.
Here's my take on this bizarre feat of human neglect for others. We fear that which we do not understand; therefore, we preach at, judge, and spew forth our ignorance.
(Yes, I will say "we." I am not infallible--it happens to each of us, being that we're human and all.)
The truth is, if we are judging, we are not loving. If we are condemning, neglecting, mocking, and otherwise showing disdain, we are not loving.
If you need a good read on human hypocrisy and the absence of love in the presence of ill will, read 1 John. I dare you. Go ahead: dust off that Bible. It's in the New Testament, right after 2 Peter.
Want a sample? Check out chapter 2, verses 9-11:
9 He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now. 10 He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him.11 But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.
Seriously, this whole book is golden. It contains some of my favorite words in the entire Bible.
If you think you're doing good by spewing verse at someone who practices a different lifestyle or has different morals than you, you might consider this: is that action truly fulfilling your Christian obligation to love, forgive, and accept...or are you fulfilling a purely human and self-created obligation to try to share a very pinpointed belief with someone, and in so doing, potentially pushing that person further from Christ, further from feeling loved and accepted, and further from ever living in The Light?
I personally don't feel it is my duty to condemn another for how he or she was created. Just as I was born with a congenital skull deformity, so are homosexuals, for example, born with a propensity toward others of the same gender. (Disclaimer: no, I am NOT comparing homosexuality to a defect or illness; I'm simply pointing out my belief that all people are created exactly as God intended them to be.)
Hear me. Let us walk with love in our hearts. Let our actions show our true tenderness towards all people. Let us learn to embrace, rather than fear, that which we do not understand. Let us preach the good news that God will forgive anyone of his or her sins if they only ask; let us not, instead, put others down or push them away. Let us hold our tongues from judgment and listen to those around us. Dear Lord, help us eat, breathe, sleep, speak, and be love.
For me, true love and compassion for others is what this quest is really all about. I will continue to pray for my ability to embody that love.