Friday, October 14, 2011

Love Everyone As Your Neighbor

Six days down; thirty-four to go.
The first five days focused on loving God. Now we are moving on to loving our "neighbors."

I have only recently begun to understand how wonderful and helpful neighbors can be. Acting "neighborly" was a term that always escaped me, mainly because people just really don't talk to their neighbors that much anymore. We might give a friendly wave as we are backing out the driveway at the same time or maybe a "good morning" tossed around here or there, but I doubt I would be the only one to say I hardly spoke to my neighbors. Then we moved onto post and all of that changed. I now know that neighbors can be awesome! Someone you have never met will welcome you into your home because you've been locked out of your house. You are invited over for playdates, dinners, and parties. I know that all I have to do is knock on someone's door, say "Hi, I'm your neighbor. Can you help me?" and they will. There is a wonderful feeling of togetherness and community on post. We are all part of the same team, we are all going through similar struggles, and it is easy to offer help to each other.

But of course, when God said "love your neighbor as yourself," He wasn't just talking about my physical neighbors--he meant all people. And unfortunately, all people are not as awesome as my neighbors-- or else this commandment would be a piece of cake.

So there you have it. Love everyone. Easy enough, right? Easy to grasp, maybe, but not so easy to do--in fact, pretty impossible. What I realized today is that it is not enough to "get along" with people. God didn't say, "Tolerate your neighbors..." He said to LOVE them.

Hey now, God. I don't know how I feel about that. You see, if You are telling me that I have to love everyone, then I have to love:

-That driver that keeps trying to run me over on the interstate
-That hoity-toity person that keeps cutting in front of me in the line at the grocery store
-The haggler at the yard sale that offends me by offering $10 for something I paid $200 for
-The punk that sold me something for $200 that I only should have paid $10 for
-The chick that is wearing the same outfit better than me
-The other person that got the job I really wanted
-The bold-faced liar
-The thief
-The person that brags about themselves all the time
-The bully on the playground who pushed my precious baby, and the mom that saw him do it and didn't say anything
-The person who unapologetically tramples over everyone and everything to get what they want

It would take A LOT of work, but I could maybe manage that. But surely, God, you don't mean EVERYONE, when you say everyone, because then I would have to love:

-A group of people who protest at funerals of military service members who have fallen in combat, and who make me ashamed that they proclaim to be a "church" (and a Baptist one at that.)
-Child molesters
-Child abductors
-Sexual abusers
-People who celebrate that planes crashed into buildings full of innocent people and are planting explosives and shooting guns at my husband and his buddies.

I don't know about all that, God. My heart is not big enough to love these people.

Here is what the book had to say:
"God's love is an everyone/everywhere/all the time" kind of love; human love is a "some people/some places/some of the time" kind of love. Some of us are better than others at human love, but none of us are able to express God's kind of love in our own power. That's the point. God wants us to depend on Him for the power to love. So He challenges us to love in a way we can only accomplish through daily dependence on His power." (Holladay, 69)

I guess what I came to accept after reading this is that I am not perfect. Yet God continues to love me unconditionally. I know I am not worthy of the kind of love He shows me all the time. But He gives it to me because He is the Father and I am his child. When I accepted Christ into my life, I vowed to strive to be more like Him in every way. Therefore, I should strive to love like He does--To love people in spite of their imperfections and in spite of their transgressions against me.
So yes, I will work to have a more loving heart toward everyone. But I think I will begin with the "everyone's" closer to the top of my list...

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