Love Everybody, Always
“Love one another.” What is simple often isn’t easy; what is easy often doesn’t last.
It was a lawyer who tried to set up Jesus. This lawyer asked Jesus what the greatest commandment was. I think he was looking for a plan, but Jesus told him about his purpose instead. He said it was to love God with all his heart and soul and mind. Then in the next breath, Jesus gave the lawyer some unsolicited but practical advice. Jesus told him he should love his neighbors just like he loved himself. Sometimes we see these as two separate ideas, but Jesus saw loving God and loving our neighbors as one inseparable mandate. They were tied for first in Jesus’ mind. I think Jesus said these things because He knew we couldn’t love God if we don’t love the people He surrounds us with.
Simply put, we can stop waiting for a plan and just go love everybody.
There’s no school to learn how to love your neighbor, just the house next door. No one expects us to love them flawlessly, but we can love them fearlessly, furiously, and unreasonably.
We’re not supposed to love only our neighbors, but Jesus thought we should start with them. I bet He knew if our love isn’t going to work for the people who live close to us, then it’s probably not going to work for the rest of the world. Jesus didn’t say who our neighbors are either. Probably so we wouldn’t start making lists of those we don’t need to love.
Each of us is surrounded every day by our neighbors. They’re ahead of us, behind us, on each side of us. They’re every place we go. They’re sacking groceries and attending city council meetings. They’re holding cardboard signs on street corners and raking leaves next door. They play high school football and deliver the mail. They’re heroes and hookers and pastors and pilots. They live on the streets and design our bridges. They go to seminaries and live in prisons. They govern us and they bother us. They’re everywhere we look. It’s one thing we all have in common: we’re all somebody’s neighbor, and they’re ours.
This has been God’s simple yet brilliant master plan from the beginning. He made a whole world of neighbors.
We call it earth, but God just calls it a really big neighborhood.
What often keeps us from loving our neighbors is fear of what will happen if we do. Frankly, what scares me more is thinking about what will happen if we don’t. Being fearless isn’t something we can decide to be in a moment, but fear can be overcome with time and the right help. We can bring all the game we’ve got, but only Jesus has the power to call out of us the kind of courage it takes to live the life He talked about.
Saying we love our neighbors is simple. But guess what? Doing it is too.
We don’t think Jesus’ command to “love your neighbor” is a metaphor for something else. We think it means we’re supposed to actually love our neighbors. When joy is a habit, love is a reflex.
Our friends do things like this for us. They help us see the life Jesus talked about while giving it to us in smaller pieces — sometimes just a teaspoonful at a time.
Selfless love has the power to transform even the darkest places into meadows.