Before Jesus is a miracle worker, he is a radical lover. His love and his miracles are connected in that miracles are an expression of his love.
A key point of escalation of the teaching of Jesus Christ relative to that of the Old Testament is love for enemies. This reveals to us about the nature of God’s love presented in Christ: No one is beneath receiving it.
Hate should not stall it. It scales over the fences of enmity. If love should be extended to enemies, it is even more accessible to people whose only point of departure is that they do share your convictions. That someone opposes your opinions does not make them an enemy. If you should love your enemies, it should be much easier to love people who do not share your convictions.
That people do not share your convictions does not make them your enemies. If we were to rate loving according to levels of difficulty, enemies would be the most demanding lot. Those who do not share your opinions would rank as easier to love. That a community does not share your opinions does not make them your enemies. You may have strong feelings against their lifestyle, but that is not enough to brand them enemies.
Many Christians still harbour hatred toward some communities. Weighing this hatred against the radical love exemplified by Jesus reveals an immature or a warped love. To follow Christ is to sign up as an ambassador of radical love. They will know you are a true follower of Christ by your love. If you are a Christian and still hate easily, then you and Christ have a long way to go.
But this struggle is not only limited to Christians of our time. Even giants of faith such as Peter had severe difficulties embracing the Gentiles who were branded unworthy outsiders. He was accused of preaching freedom by day and pushing pre-conditions by night. It took heavenly intervention to bring in a new thinking. But humans may think what they may think but their thoughts, however lofty, are inferior to God’s. That human beings insist on not accepting some people does not change God’s nature of loving them – to death.
Loving someone you like is easy – it is actually expected. Loving someone you are supposed to hate is hard work. But because love is the greatest, it should be expected that it will be the hardest. The highest peak presents the highest difficulty to scale.
The call to every Christian is to break the speed of hate with love as the propelling power. In the order of things, the speed of love supersedes the speed of hate. Love is the ultimate speed. There is no experience beyond it. Love is the last frontier. Love is the furthest future. Faith and hope are great. But the greatest is love. Love is the ingredient that adds life to every experience. Without love, no matter how spectacular the act, it is as a noisy gong – empty and nothing.
Like the fallen angel who desired to take over the heavenly throne, romantic love has been packaged as if it is the ultimate. Many people indulge in romantics with expectation of the highest experience only to be disappointed. Romantic love is not the ultimate and those who peddle it as the ultimate attraction know it is a masquerade that easily turns into a fatal attraction. There is the mother love and then there is a shallower decoy love whose ambition is to obscure the full love.
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From the interactions of Christ, no outcast tag should put your love on brakes. Not even a prostitute tag should put your love on brakes. Hate is aided by pride. It begins where love comes to a screeching halt. Where hate begins, there begins your divergence with God. Love is the boldest force. Love is the last force standing. Even hate must bend its knees in the presence of love.
Sections of Christians have people they proudly hate and discriminate against. Beyond rejecting them, some even laud their persecution. But wisdom guides that disagreeing with a philosophy or lifestyle should not translate into hate.
Due to sidelining responses, some families suffer pastoral stigma. They are passed over and left alone until such a time when they are “back in line”. Some pastors are known to be intolerant of other people’s views. Other pastors fear for their reputations and dissociate with families whose members are regarded outcasts. Such families experience love-rationing and are left to suffer pastoral blackouts.
But love is a stigma-buster. It is the duty of Christians to bring to the middle people who live on the margins. Followers of Christ do not brand people as unworthy of the love of God. Instead, love, like a gravitational force, exists to save people from the margins into the middle. Everyone is a candidate of the Good News. If Christ does not reject, why would a Christian reject some?
But even those who want to be loved and accepted liberally need to complete their understanding of love. Love is as tender as it is tough. It is as correcting as it is affirming. It is as embracing as it is reforming. It is as freeing as it is guiding.
Love may not be conditional but it is transformational. Love has an inherent scanning ability that exposes elements inconsistent with it. This filtering ability feeds love’s reforming power. To expect only love’s embrace is to limit the power of love to self preservation. To desire love is also to anticipate being changed by it. Love is not only a preservative; it is simultaneously a transforming agent. Only false love will guarantee status quo.