Love Who? Can’t I just be a recluse in a mountain cabin... Seriously, I ask myself that when I talk about loving my neighbor. To be honest, I have trouble with this. I don’t want to love my neighbor; it’s not like I don’t like them. I have very awesome neighbors, it’s just that I don’t want to love them. To be even more honest, I even have trouble loving the people in my own house at times. You see, the problem I have is that I am selfish. Not the “I don’t want to share” selfish, I mean the deep down dirty-rotten selfish! Seriously, I’m a sinner and I don’t like to mingle with other sinners or anybody for that matter... It’s not that I think I’m better than them or that I don’t want them to find out about my sins, I just don’t like to hangout with people. Don’t get me wrong, I have friends and I do go out. Some would even say that I’m a high-end extrovert. Honestly, I really don’t want people to know me too deeply and I don’t really care to know them in-depth (this is strange coming from a youth pastor, I know). Isn’t this our culture nowadays though? No judging, no accountability, no deep relationships (only if it is on my terms...). We want to know everybody and to be known by everybody, but only on the surface-level, not too deep... (I do believe this culture is changing, especially with the youth of today... More on that in another post).
So when Jesus commands me to love my neighbor and he means to do this in a deep selfless and sacrificial; the way God has shown His love to us. I really don’t want too; seriously, I don’t! It's really hard for me to be obedient. It’s hard to love people in that way Jesus asks us to, at least for me it is... Then I read scriptures like Colossians 1:21-22 and others like Romans 5:10; I realize that I need help. I need help to love God and love my neighbors. What’s so cool about this is that God gives us help! First, through His son Jesus; second, by the power of the Holy Spirit; third, through reminders in scripture, and finally through people that He brings into our lives. I am so convinced that one of the reasons God brought my wife into my life is so that I would learn to love my neighbor. If it wasn’t for her, I probably would be some recluse living in some mountain cabin or in some shack along a deserted beach. She has shown me who Jesus is and has demonstrated to me what a living example of how loving others is a way of life.
And that’s it! When we love our neighbors, it’s a way of life, a way of thinking, a way of being and doing. It’s not a program, an event, or the latest strategic ministry model or church growth model... It’s just who you become and who you are. It’s the whole 2 Corinthians 5:14-21 transformation process taking root. SO when I’m asked to love my neighbor, I will initially say, “Love Who? Can’t I just be a recluse in a mountain cabin...” Eventually, I will come to my senses and LOVE. I can’t say that I love God, but don’t love my neighbor (1 John 4:20).