Love people to heaven – all people. Really love them. All of them. Like God does.
Love your enemies.
Lately, this concept has, quite literally, been following me around. Like a persistent child, it’s right at my heels no matter where I turn. It’s sneaking into sermons, I keep tripping over it during my quiet time, it’s been weaseling its way into everyday conversations, and it drops by unannounced while I’m doing completely unrelated research for work.
I think, perhaps, God is trying to tell me something.
The thing is: I don’t have any enemies. At least, I don’t think I do. Sure, there are people I like less than others. But, as a general rule, I don’t foster a profuse hatred toward anyone in particular. So, I just assumed I was doing okay in this area.
Apparently there’s more to it than that.
Like I said, to my knowledge, I don’t have any enemies, but there are plenty of people who – well, to be perfectly honest – irritate me. Some annoy me. And still others aggravate me to the point of actually getting angry or upset. So what about them?
It seems the whole love your enemies thing is more complex than the mere absence of hatred. It requires action in all kinds of circumstances. It demands that we are absolutely and utterly selfless when faced with situations and people that are unpleasant to deal with. It means – through words and actions – putting people who annoy us, irritate us, and make us angry completely before ourselves. We have to love them. Really love them – like Jesus does.
I mess up a lot. I get moody. Sometimes I’m insanely stubborn. There are even times I resort to whining. But God still loves me. And as He continues to pursue me with the idea of loving my enemies, this line from a commentary on one of Paul’s letters caught my eye: “Consider the long-term results of thoughtlessly pursuing what is good for you.”
Left to my own devices, I’m certainly prone to pursuing what is good for me. But the gospel flaunts love and unity, and it keeps a pulse on the ever-present reality of eternity. “Get along,” it says. “Treat each other with respect,” it demands. “Love people to Heaven,” it pleads.
Love people to heaven – all people. Even the excessively-grumpy cashier who overcharged me. Even the girl at club who won’t sit down, sit still, or stop talking. Even an overbearing parent, a nosey next-door neighbor, or an arrogant coworker. And, perhaps most importantly, even the people who have deeply, deeply wounded me.
Love them. Really love them. All of them. Like God does.