I had a conversation this week that went like this:
(Friend pulls into my driveway in the same car she's had for years.)
Me: “I thought you got a new car!”
Friend: “Well, I went to the dealership and waited around for what felt like forever, but the only person who was available to help me was gay, so I left.”
I’m going to be very careful writing this as I want to make sure my position is clear: homosexuality breaks the heart of Jesus even to the point of righteous indignation, yes absolutely. But I have to believe that depriving someone desperately in need of Him of a chance to encounter Him, breaks His heart just the same.
And who am I, desperately in need of Him myself, to deprive my neighbor?
One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’” (Matthew 22:35-39).
This is repeated again in Mark chapter twelve.
One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:28-31).
Scripture is explicit in instructing us to love our neighbor, so much so that it is the second greatest commandment next to loving God. In fact, Jesus tells us in the thirteenth chapter of the book of John that by loving one another others will know that we love Him.
If I saw someone playing baseball in a New York Yankees uniform I wouldn’t have to wonder if he played for the Atlanta Braves, I would know just by looking at him exactly what team he belonged to. Similarly, when we love others, those around us will know exactly to Whom we belong.
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another (John 13:34-35).
Notice a few things about this verse.
- It is not an option. It is a command.
- Jesus does not say, “you must love one another, but only as long as the other person looks, thinks, behaves, and believes the same as you.”
While we’re here, I do think it is imperatively worth noting that the world’s definition of love and Jesus’s definition of love are vastly different. The world says love = acceptance without question, live your truth, do what makes you feel good and I’ll cheer you on. Jesus says love = discipline, a challenge to reflection, repentance, and transformation; engaging the person without embracing their sin.
Now, what if the day my friend went to get their new car and left was the same day that employee got hit by a car on his way home from work and died? Now, there are a million ways to complicate this, but let’s keep it simple. What if that encounter with my friend would’ve been the employee’s last chance to encounter Jesus?
What if, in the same way, someone has missed the heart of Jesus because their sin made me or you uncomfortable?
What we have to remember is that this person was not a believer, so we can, therefore, not expect them to be held to a biblical standard for living. I think to some extent, many of us have subscribed to a “not my monkeys not my circus” mentality, when in reality we have been called and instructed very clearly to carry one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2).
Like I said, there are a million “Yeah, but’s” and rabbit holes we could go down, but in keeping it simple, I will leave you with this – I know for a fact there were some who couldn’t see past the thorn in my side, but hallelujah, I for one, am thankful for the ones who saw sin’s grip on my life and still thought I was worth loving.