What a way to wake up! Before I had my cup of java, before I brushed my teeth, Beth was on my TV (remember--James Robison, Life Today, Wednesday's with Beth!) speaking directly to me about learning to love difficult people in my life. What a wake up call!
In this morning's challenge to love the someone who drives you crazy, Beth reminded me of the enormous amount of Scripture that mandates the importance of love (I John 4: 7-21; I Corinthians 13:2; Luke 6: 23-25 just for starters). Now, I have no problem loving my family--I mean LOVE my family. You know LOVE; the-make-you-feel-warm-all-over-kinda-feeling! But Beth is talking about loving your enemy, or the person who duh-rives---you cuh-razy! You know that kind of love; the make-you-feel-hot-inside-and-out-kinda-feeling! Beth says, "The kind of person, that when they leave, you just want to eat a lot!"
Now, I know you know the kind of person we're talking about; for as Beth insists, "If there is NOT someone in your life that is difficult to love, you are not getting out enough!" That person who is boastful, arrogant, self-centered, or, as Beth, explains, "globe-headed, THEY are the world." It may be our neighbor, our employer, our sibling, our spouse. For the parents of a prodigal--it may be our own child.
Realizing that this thought alone may be better processed with a clean set of teeth followed by a hot cup of caffeine, I put TiVo on pause, brushed my teeth and brewed a fresh pot of coffee. The aroma alone energized my fatigue and I grabbed my Bible from my nightstand, pushed play on TiVo...and discovered a fresh perspective and renewed energy in Luke 6: 32-36.
It's easy to love those who love us and those we love. But how well do we love the difficult person in our life? Do you justify like I do? Do you lower the bar, like I do, and respond in kind? Or do you love them as God has loved you? Beth's challenge to me this morning is simple: "You will never look more like your Heavenly Father than when you love the unlovely." That's what Luke 6: 32-36 is all about. Even sinners love those who love them, even sinners do good to those who do good to them; it is when we love our enemies, do good to them, when we are merciful to that difficult person in our life that we model who Jesus really is!
Now, I love when the instructions are simple! Live well? Love well! Model Jesus? Love the unloveable! No, I didn't say the doing would be easy--but the plan is perfect! To model Jesus, we don't need a degree in theology, a flowing robe, or a Pastoral title; we simply need an open heart. One that is willing to accept the challenge and learn from the example of the One who first loved us! Unloveable us! What mercy we have been shown, "But God demonstrate[d] his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8
I accept the challenge; starting today, I will love well, whether the lovely or the unloveable--it makes no difference. NO! It makes a huge difference. For as Jesus taught--"what credit is that to you?" I want to make a difference....in the way I love, the way I am loved (is it possible, I am the someone that drives someone cuh-razee!) , and the way I model Jesus. Will you join me? Will you help me? Hold me accountable to do the tough business of loving even when it doesn't come naturally! And I will do the same.