Unsure about love?

Sometimes people get under my skin! I’m not thinking about those who are merely thoughtless. A rude or insensitive remark may trigger a moment of irritation, but I quickly get over it. I’m thinking about the people whose choices are hurtful to others, who wrong friends and family by acting in ways that are totally selfish. I am not happy to admit that I am unsure whether I even want to love them! The Koran burning preacher in South Florida, Terry Jones, needs my prayers, but the truth is that I’d like to kick him in his butt! I know a young man who has caused his family grief for 10 years with one bad choice after the other. Every time he gets himself backed into a corner, he cries and wants them to rescue him from himself. I really don’t want to love him, either.

But, I don’t see any exceptions in Jesus’ words, do you? “You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty.” (Matthew 5:43-45, The Message) It is clear to me that the way Jesus thinks of love and the way I think of it are quite different. Love to me is an emotion stirred by the desirability of the object of my affection. The Lord says that love is a choice, an act of my will!

I have discovered that it is nearly impossible to wish ill on another if I am actively praying for them, which is one of the most loving acts. As I talk honestly with the Lord about someone and my responses to their actions, compassion begins to take form. The Spirit creates a concern, taking away judgment and replacing it with empathy, even those who anger me with their sinfulness, selfishness, or stupidity. I begin to desire their redemption more than my own comfort.

Are you unsure about love, disciple?
Are you repulsed by another, ready to refuse to care for them?

Here’s a word from the Word that challenges a different response. “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:18-21, NIV)

_______________

Love divine, all loves excelling,
Joy of heaven, to earth come down,
Fix in us Thy humble dwelling,
All Thy faithful mercies crown!
Jesus, Thou art all compassion,
Pure, unbounded love Thou art;
Visit us with Thy salvation,
Enter every trembling heart.

Finish, then, Thy new creation;
Pure and spotless let us be;
Let us see Thy great salvation
Perfectly restored in Thee;
Changed from glory into glory,
Till in heaven we take our place,
Till we cast our crowns before Thee,
Lost in wonder, love, and praise.

Love Divine All Loves Excelling
Wesley, Charles / Prichard, Rowland H.

© Public Domain

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