Our Love Should Be Ridiculous
by Stephen Sanders
Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Romans 12:10
Every once in a while, you meet a Christian who just flat out makes you feel good about life in general. It doesn’t happen probably as much as it should, but nonetheless, it’s always nice to see. Even though it may just be a brief encounter, you leave that conversation feeling important, hopeful and restored. Sometimes, it’s even so powerful that it inspires you to become a better person.
I recently had an encounter with a certain pastor who just flat out blew me away with the way he carried himself. This was actually my 2nd time meeting him, and I just can’t describe the attitude of this man. His love for God and love for people was simply contagious. Everyone in the room was just so peaceful and complimentary after he left. I found myself wanting to be more like that because, well, I’m not.
Showing “brotherly affection” towards others is not something that comes naturally for me. I tend to make a lot of excuses when it comes to being more outgoing and more loving. After all, it’s much safer to just ignore people I don’t know or have things in common with. That makes perfect sense, right? It’s wiser to just let someone else share God’s love with them; someone who can “minister to them more effectively than I.”
God continues to deal with me about this on a daily basis. Not only is displaying love towards one another one of the chief commands of the Christian faith, but it’s the core of who Jesus Christ was while he was on earth in the flesh. It’s easy to assume that Jesus would have gotten along easier with the “church folks,” but He actually spent all of His time with tax collectors, prostitutes and such; people who He had absolutely zero in common with.
The religious people of that day mocked Jesus for loving the way He did. Jesus’ love was ridiculous.
I’ve been studying the heck out of the book of Romans lately. It’s been great because I’ve begun to see this continuing contrast between the “church folks” and the “actual church” that Paul was ministering to in those days. The “church folks” were so proud of the list of regulations that defined who they were and set them apart from the society in which they lived. The “actual church” simply grabbed hold of the free gift of Christ and displayed it openly to that same society. The “church folks” disqualified others from becoming God’s Chosen because of what they were unwilling to do. But the “actual church” made no assumptions about who could and could not be “saved.”
The early church let the good news of the cross speak for itself... and they would scream this truth to everyone... everywhere... even if it meant dying a gruesome death. Their love was ridiculous.
In today’s culture, self-sacrificial love to the point of death sounds just as extreme as it did back then. So many of us make excuses as to why we don’t need to love like that. Christians and church doctrines manage to create unwritten laws that shield us from having to actually love like the Spirit of Christ so desperately wants us to. We take specific scriptures and turn them into shield for our own protection. Take Romans 12:1-2 for example:
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Until recently, I’d only recognized this scripture as an instruction to “beware of society and it’s influences.” And it’s true that the world does things way differently than the Holy Spirit does. But I’ve always overlooked the importance of “test and discern what is the will of God.” You see, we cannot “test the will of God” if we are so far removed from society that we are out of touch. The same “enemy society” that we are to not become influenced by is also the same exact place where God has strategically placed us to seek His will for our lives and display the gifts and talents He has placed in us.
Sound impossible? It’s really not... it just takes a ridiculous love for this lifestyle to be functional.
In actuality, it may appear to many as being very dysfunctional. But that’s okay! This Christian walk was never meant to be something that caused us to take ourselves more seriously than we ought to anyway. To tell you the truth, Jesus said that the “actual church” would “confound the wise and shame the strong.” So don’t be afraid to be excessively full of life, hopeful, positive and patient when others try to make that difficult to do. Look for excuses to just randomly meet the needs of others... especially your enemies! That’s love... that’s the sort of thing that everyone, Christians and non-Christians, long for deep down inside. That’s what the love of Christ is all about.
Intersecting Faith & Life:
I’m challenging myself (and you) to reach out in some way to someone every single day... starting today. God has radically changed our lives. He has given us something that is more valuable than anything. It’s time we share it, not from a soapbox or inside our church walls, but in the everyday hustle and bustle of where we already exist...
...and be proactive because, chances are, if you don’t then no one else will.
For further study:
Read Romans 12:1
The Characters of Christmas is a podcast created to help you take a fresh look at the Christmas story by getting to know the minor characters that played a part in Jesus’ birth. It is the companion to Dan Darling's book "The Characters of Christmas: The Unlikely People Caught Up in the Story of Jesus."