Guest Author: Elsa Thomas
In college, I’ve noticed that I don’t really “like” some people as much as I should. Every time I pass by them, I try not to make eye contact and if unfortunately I do, I just give them a quick smile and walk away, avoiding to initiate any conversation. I don’t hate them or anything… But I judged them based on their not-so-great lifestyle or how they’ve treated me or others. I even tried to justify my actions by saying that “those people are not good influences” or “I shouldn’t be around them.” However, recently I’ve grown to ask myself: “As a Christian, is this the way I’m supposed to treat others? How can I love someone without questioning their morality?”
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” | Matthew 5:43-48
In these verses, Christ mentions the commonly accepted idea to “love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” However, later He instructs us to love people who aren’t Christians and also to pray for them, which is the complete opposite of hating your enemy. To expand on this thought, Christ also asks several questions to His audience: “If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?” By asking these questions, Jesus is saying that we shouldn’t just communicate or associate only with Christians, but with non-Christians as well. Keep in mind that this doesn’t mean we should imitate the ways of non-Christians (Romans 12:2 – “Do not conform to the pattern of this world…”). Just as Christ said to love others, His life portrayed the very same.
When looking at His life in the New Testament, Christ demonstrated His love for others in all that He said and did. Christ never withheld His kindness based on how prominent someone was, how wealthy they were, or how they treated others. He bestowed acts of sympathy to even the lowliest of people, such as thieves, adulterers, lepers, etc. These were people who were way past the point of no return. Nevertheless, Christ showed unconditional love to the people He interacted with.
Now shifting the focus, what about the whole human race? We were a group of people destined for death with absolutely no trace of good in us. A wretched group of people who were undeserving of love. However, the Almighty God exhibited the greatest act of love for us, which meant sacrificing His only Son to save us. By just understanding the message of the gospel, it can be seen that we weren’t worthy of this love. Nonetheless, Christ deemed us worthy – worthy enough to die for. So if we, as Christians, are supposed to live in a Christ-like manner, then shouldn’t we love everyone like Christ?
“Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” | Mark 12:31
As one of the greatest commandments in the Bible, it is important to love as Christ loved.
So the next time you find yourself in a situation where you’re loving someone a little less, remember Christ’s extreme but perfect act of love on the cross.
“and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” | Ephesians 5:2