What does it mean to love people? Does it mean to agree with them? Does it mean to think like them? Does it mean for them to be like you and you to be like them?
Jesus is our perfect example of love. Literally, perfect. And Jesus shows us he loved people he didn’t agree with. In Luke 15, it says Jesus was intentionally hanging out and eating with notorious sinners. Jesus wasn’t endorsing their decisions, he was loving them. He was without sin, yet he chose to sit at the table of those who were known for their sin. His thoughts were not their thoughts. They were not like him, and he was not like them, but he loved them.
And guess what, his love brought them in to hear his message. They gathered, not because they would be condemned and judged, but because they would be loved at his table. This love would transform their hearts and their minds, and change their entire lives.
And Jesus says in John 15:12, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.”
That’s not a suggestion. It’s not a bright idea you should try on Sundays. It’s a command. Love as Jesus has loved. That’s a high standard, but dang it, we should at at least be trying.
Today’s devotional is part 2 of a 3 part series on a Life Purpose Statement. In yesterday’s episode, I shared my personal Life Purpose Statement which I use as a mantra to shift my perspective and help me see my overall life and it’s purpose more clearly. 7 words in 3 bullets:
Have a Blast.
So far, I hope this has you considering a personal Life Purpose Statement for yourself, and remember, mine is up for grabs if it fits you!
Yesterday I taught on bullet 1: Love God. If you missed it, go back and listen. It will have you thinking about God and feeling prompted to check-in with him every time you pick up your phone!
Today, bullet 2: Love People.
What is getting in the way of us loving as Jesus loved us? Is it their choices? Is it their attitude? Is it our differences? Well, the solution is very simple … GET OVER IT!
Seriously, get over it. Jesus did. When Jesus was hanging on the cross, willingly sacrificing his life to save ours, he wasn’t making a list of contingencies. You have to agree with me. You have to vote like me. You have to look like me. You have to live like me. Thank God he didn’t make any of those restrictions on his love for us. He gave one condition of salvation, believe in him and we would be saved. But even if we didn’t, he still loved us enough to die for us.
Who is it you find so darn hard to love? God’s word tells us what love is in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. Listen to these words and apply them to the people you struggle to love:
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”
Let’s zero in on verse 5 using different translations to have a deeper understanding. New Living Translation: “Love does not demand its own way. It is not irritable.” New American Standard Translation: “Love does not act disgracefully, it does not seek its own benefit, it is not provoked.” Message Translation: “Love doesn’t force itself on others, Isn’t always “me first,” Doesn’t fly off the handle, Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others.”
Opppps, y’all, we’ve screwed this up! We have become irritable. We have allowed ourselves to be provoked. We’ve been flying off the handle. We’ve been keeping score, and when we do, we all lose. You know what we lose? We lose our love for one another!
Jesus said in John 13:35, “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”
A disciple is a follower of Jesus. The distinguishing mark for us as followers of Jesus is our love. When we lose our love for people, all people, we lose our mark. We no longer bear the image of Jesus because we’re not acting like him. We’re not following his command. We’ve lost our patience, kindness has gone out the window, we’re easily angered, totally irritable, ready for a fight and keeping score. And we’re failing. Love never fails. If you want to win, then you love.
Your love isn’t an endorsement on anyone’s behaviors of choices. Just as Jesus’ love wasn’t telling the notorious sinners he ate dinner with to keep sinning. His love was an invitation to belong. An invitation to be accepted. An invitation to be part of something so ridiculously good that not a single one of us were qualified to receive. And Jesus said, “Now, love like I have loved you.”
I’m generally the most non-confrontational person you will ever meet. If there’s a fight, you generally won’t find me in it. If it gets ugly, I go peace out. But I’m not innocent. I’ve noticed the conversation going on inside my head, driven by my opinions is kind of gross. Yuck. I don’t even like me when I listen to my opinions on stuff. So, I’ve decided to go on a 21 day opinion fast.
Yes, 21 days of getting over my opinions and moving forward with love. 21 days of not allowing opinionated thoughts to float around in my mind, elevating me and lowering others. 21 days of not looking sideways at something or someone different. 21 days of intentionally loving like Jesus loved. This means seeing every person I come in contact with as the soul Jesus considered worth dying for. This means knowing you, me, and everyone else is an individual masterpiece created by the Master, and they bare the image of their Maker. I will start noticing that!
How about you? Would you like to go on a 21 day opinion fast with me? Starting today, June 22nd, that would take us through July 12th. It applies in person and online. It applies to strangers and it applies to the people you share a home with.
Romans 14:1 “Accept other believers who are weak in faith, and don’t argue with them about what they think is right or wrong.” Then, verse 13, “Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.”
Our opinions have become stumbling blocks. So, I’m working to remove mine completely for 21 days! Instead I’m offering open doors to the love of Jesus, starting in my thoughts! Join me. God might just change the way we see a few things, the way we think about a few things, and the way we’ve been acting! And when he does, he might just use us to bring another one of his children back to him!
Have a Blast.