How do I love others? I imperfectly, humbly and out of obedience return to Jesus in prayer and reading His Word. With His help I’m learning to persevere when loving others is hard, not reciprocated and doesn’t seem to make a difference. As a Christian, loving the unlovable comes back to obedience. It comes back to how serious I am about being a Christ-follower versus calling myself one and looking no different. It comes back to my inability to explain to God, who loves thisself-centered, impatient, sometimes ungodly woman, why I won’t love the humans He died for.
What does it really look like to love? I’ve been giving that a lot of thought lately while reading through 1 John and while living life with “the humans,” as my friend calls them. The humans are annoying, hateful and as we called it in high school, two-faced. The humans, present company included, can smile to your face then turn around and call you a jerk in their head, under their breath or to another human. The humans are… I am… difficult to like, let alone love. Yet Jesus kind of said love’s a big deal if we are going to follow Him, so how do we do it?
I’m not entirely sure but I started by praying for someone I don’t particularly like. Unfortunately, I didn’t want to pray for them so first I asked God to soften my heart toward them. Apart from being a Christian – in my humanness, rather than pray I’d like to tell said human where to go, ignore them or do something else retributive that I believe I’d be justified doing. Although loving someone without saying or doing anything to them seems like it’d be easy, it’s painful. If you want to know if you love someone you don’t like, start praying for them.
Once I could pray nicely for said human I thought about how I’d like someone to pray for me (aka, love your neighbor as yourself). I pray for protection over my family, marriage and health so I started praying that for this individual. When I did God began softening my heart to the fact this person is a parent and a spouse who loves God. He showed me they are a lot like me. But just when I begin to realize how arrogant and foolish it is to claim to love Jesus but not love the humans He loves, the humans inevitably annoy, hurt or defame me again and I go back to wanting to slap them.
The urge to ignore, criticize and/or hurt people is why I need God. Every day I have new opportunities to act in love, but without looking for and listening to God I will listen to Laura. Without continually going back to God’s Word, looking at the places I need to look more like Christ and trying to pray out of a place of genuine love and concern for the humans that annoy me, I will not I will not choose love when the humans disappoint me (again).