Now that Valentine’s Day is behind us and with June weddings just around the corner, we are in the season of love. And love we do: approximately 145 million Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged each year and there are 2.3 million weddings...the highest percentage taking place in June!
Yes, it’s true. We are in love’s alley — and of course, it feels great to love; great to be doing what we, as Christians, are called to do. Here’s the thing, however. It kind of doesn’t count. When Jesus talks about love, it has very little to do with expressions found along love’s alley. Loving those that are lovable is easy; a given. The love Jesus talks about is loving those who are not easy to love; those who take extraordinary sacrifice to love; those that may even be dangerous to love. Jesus was trying to set a new course for mankind; trying to get the world to see his brand of love in those that followed him.
Jesus loved not only the people that were unlovable but those that were intolerable. When He touched and healed the leper, He was loving a person whose mere presence was a threat to the entire community and therefore, banished. When He offered living waters to a Samaritan woman, he was loving someone that the Jews considered the dirtiest of dogs, unworthy of even a conversation. When He had dinner at the home of a tax collector named Zacchaeus, He was loving someone the Jews hated for his traitorous ways; stealing from them with the protections of Rome.
Jesus was all about loving sacrificially. And lest we happen to think that applies to some but not us, we really need to think again. When Romans 5:10 states, “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life,” the language is intentionally harsh. The human race were enemies of God — utterly intolerable but for the grace and mercy of our loving Savior.
In my book, The Third Option, I tell the story of Dylan Roof, the young white supremacist who walked into a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina, pulled out a gun and, even though they had welcomed him into their Bible study, shot nine people dead.
With the eyes of the world on those followers of Jesus, they managed to do exactly what Jesus was talking about, even though it was almost impossible to fathom. In less than eight days after the massacre, they looked Dylan Roof in the face, hearts still bleeding from their loss, and forgave him.
What the world saw was a real-time display of the way Jesus loves. Can you think of anything more powerful than that?
This year, as we skip merrily through love’s alley, let us also find opportunities to love in a way that not only changes the lives of those we love, but also gives the world more ways to recognize what it meant for Jesus to go to the cross. People who are not naturally easy to love aren’t difficult to find. Just start with someone whose skin looks nothing like yours.
Miles McPherson publishes regularly at Milesmcpherson.com. He is a former NFL player, speaker, writer, and a spiritual advisor to some of America’s greatest pro athletes. He is also the founding Pastor of Rock Church in San Diego, CA. Follow Miles on Facebook - FB.com/Pastor.Miles.McPhersonFollow Miles on Twitter - Twitter.com/MilesMcPpherson