I’m a firm believer that the Bible teaches that we should love one another. I don’t think that is limited in any way. Some Christians seem to believe that means we should love other Christians, but not anybody else. I think that’s wrong-headed.
Having been a preacher (I know, some of you are surprised!) for almost 50 years, I can tell you that a lot of Christians don’t even love other Christians. But that’s a discussion for another time.
I’m prompted to write this because of an incident I witnessed this week. I went to a local Burger King for supper. A couple of teenagers created an altercation with the lady behind the counter. They said they didn’t get what they ordered. The disagreement escalated from complaints, to shouts, to a physical assault. It was all so unnecessary. Thankfully, the lady’s aunt and uncle came into the store about the time of the assault and managed to separate the teens and convince them to leave. Police responded. It was just a mess. All I wanted was a burger!
That incident was just one in a long line of things I’ve noticed for a few years now. I could tell you about angry, volatile shoppers at Wal-Mart. I could tell you about venom-filled posts on Facebook. I’ve got more. None of these made the newspaper or TV news reports. These are just my anecdotal experiences, piled up on one another, and it’s causing me to conclude that we’ve got a deep problem that’s getting worse. People seem to hate one another.
I said, “seem”. I’m making a judgment here. I could be wrong. But you’ll have to convince me. I’ve been around for a while. Longer than many of you. I spent eight years in the Air Force and lived all over the world. I’ve traveled as a civilian in both Europe, the Far East, Russia, and more. It’s not like I haven’t seen any more than my back yard. I’ve even lived in seven different states right here in the good old USA. What I’m seeing today is not what I’ve seen during most of my life. We’re in trouble.
So, I think we’re in great need to learn to love one another. I don’t have to agree with people to love them. I don’t have to limit love to the people I hang with. I don’t even have to be emotionally invested in a person to love them. The church has failed terribly to teach this, to model this, and to practice this love. But criticize the church all you want, nobody else is doing much to instill this love of others either. If it’s going to be done, perhaps Christians should take up the cause.
I’m not going to quote a bunch of Bible to you, but I will say it might be worth your time to investigate what the book actually says about loving people. It has everything to do with things like kindness, patience, tolerance, and just thinking that others are equally as important as you are. It has to do with respect, and behaving toward people in honorable ways. It requires great effort because it’s much easier to do anything except love people.
Bottom line, I want to love people. I want you to love people. We need to love one another even when things don’t go right. Would the Burger King incident have gone differently if the lady behind the counter had loved those kids? Would it have gone differently if the kids had loved that lady? I think so. I think the reason it didn’t go so well is that it was one example when care for the other person, as a person, didn’t matter.
But saying this, I know the problem is huge. Let me simplify it for you. Quit worrying about loving the whole world. You’ll never get the chance to love on that scale. You will, however, run into individual people today. The challenge is to love that person. That’s really all any of us must do. Love the person right in front of you. Just do that. If you do it, I do it, we all do it, that will add up. If you do it every chance you get, you’ll make a difference. Doesn’t matter who the person is. Give them some love. No, they might not deserve it. You don’t either. If we keep waiting for others to deserve our love we’ll just excuse ourselves from the obligation.
The “Golden Rule” is about love. Treat others the way you want to be treated. Do for them like you want them to do for you. Speak to them the way you want to be spoken to. It’s all about loving others like you want to be loved. It’s not simple. It’s not easy. It is so much better.