A couple of days ago, I was driving my youngest grandson, Aiden, to school. He asked for something to drink, so I pulled into the AM-PM store and bought a small bottle of apple juice. The clerk at the checkout was an older gentleman in his 60’s. He was very friendly. My total was $2.04 and all I had was a twenty, but before I could say or do anything, he took 4 pennies out of the little change box and took care of it. It was a very nice thing to do and I was blessed.
I got into the car, gave Aiden the apple juice, and told him, “The man at the cash register was really nice.” To which Aiden replied, “He must love God, Grandpa.”
Aiden’s comment took me by surprise as it touched my soul in a unique way. I said to Aiden, “Yes, Bug (my name for him). When someone loves God a lot, they learn to love people a lot, too.”
My eyes welled with tears. That’s how it’s supposed to work, and I was so glad that a child (particularly, my grandson) could figure that out. If we really love God, we will really love people, too.
Jesus affirmed that the greatest commandment was to “love the Lord your God with all of our heart, mind, soul and strength … and to love your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27)
The Apostle John said, “Whoever does not love their brother or sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen” (1 John 4:20).
But sadly, there are many who claim to love God but do not love others. Too many Christians are too concerned about being right, that they forget that Jesus has called them, first and foremost, to be loving.
It bugs me a lot when I read about Christians who hate or despise people who are different than them, whether their animosity is toward liberals or conservatives or gays or straights who hate gays or Muslims or Buddhists or Atheists or Mormons or people of color or people of no color or feminists or male chauvinists or people who hurt them or disagree with them or (fill in the blank). The way I read it, Christ followers are not to hate anyone. Anyone. Rather, we are to learn how to love as God did when He sent Jesus to save a people lost in sin – which is all of us. We are to love as Jesus did when He walked as a human being in our broken world. Yes, this is not automatic or easy. It’s against the grain of our human nature. It requires work, faith, supernatural empowerment and more work. But it’s what we are called to do, if we truly love God.
It bugs me even more when I hear about Christians who show lack of love toward other Christians because of differences in their theology, practices, political viewpoints, social standings/graces, worship expressions, musical preferences, approaches to Scripture, ethnicity, gender, or (fill in the blank). Our lack of love toward one another serves to confirm to the world how ridiculously irrelevant and irreverent we are becoming. It exposes our hypocrisy, pride, ego, self-centeredness and all those things that we claim that we are dying to. Most importantly, as those who believe that we possess “the image of God in redemption,” we grossly misrepresent the Lord when we do not love others. It’s no wonder Jesus has an “I never knew you” clause in the Bible (Matt 7:23)! His call to his followers to love in his love is a non-negotiable.
Jesus said, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35)
I hope and pray that as Aiden grows up, that his theory holds true: that the evidence of people loving God is confirmed in how well they love people. I hope he sees that evidenced in me, his grandma, and the people who go to his church. I hope he sees that evidenced in Christian writers, bloggers, leaders, and spokepeople. I hope that he sees what Jesus envisioned becoming a reality: that a people whose love for “the God who loves” transforms them into a people who loves the world as He does – without strings attached.
And I hope that AM-PM clerk knows the love of God. If so, he’s doing it right.
How has God’s love transformed your ability to love?
Who are the people in your life that are hardest to love?
What can you do to be transformed by God in that area of your life?