Our next-door neighbours are like family to us. They are a retired couple in their seventies. My husband and I are in full-on mid-life mode, parents of teens and young adults.
This couple allows one of our sons to use their kayak on the weekends.
I construct them homemade strawberry jam every summer. Our sons help them with heavy lifting chores around the house.
They sometimes pick us up a sweet gift while away from home on a trip. We love to visit outside in the space where our yards gratify.
We keep an eye on one another homes. Our two households are fiercely loyal each other. And yet.
We never EVER support the same candidate in a general elections .
Yep. We are polar opposites politically. Like as in tippy-top-of-the-North-Pole-versus-all-the-way-down-to-the-darkness-of-the-bottom-of-this-orb-that-is-earth kind of opposite. How then are we able to be so close as neighbors? Shouldnt people who disagree politically also possess an intrinsic disfavour of each other?
Its easy to love those who are lovable. Its a breeze to be kind to people who suppose just like you do about the worlds affairs. But to display the same behavior toward a person who holds contrasting notions is an altogether special assignment. However, Jesus not only taught it, he modeled it.
Throughout the New Testament, we watch Jesus spending his time on ground with all kinds of people. He didnt just hang out with the social upper-clas or the wealthy and influential. Nor did all his interactions take place with those who aligned themselves with his faith.
No. He sometimes he spent hour with religious and governmental leaders. Other days he greeted “childrens and” tax collectors and those whom society rejected.
His last conversation at his crucifixion was with a robber who hung beside him, convicted and sentenced to death for his unlawful behavior.
Jesus modeled upside-down living and loving. He awarded dignity to people and was kind to them because.well, the latter are people .
When we demonstrate love to the person we find standing in front of usregardless of what they believewe are acknowledging the fact that all humans are created in the image of God. As the very beginning of the Bible countries: So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he generated them( Genesis 1:27 NLT ).
Every day and each week, our lives naturally intersect with many people, all of whom bear the image of God. When we look beyond ourselvesand beyond the flaws and quirks and even the political faith of otherswe watch God. We have an opportunity not only to greet these in-our-lives-on-purpose people face-to-face, but also to witness Gods very image in them.
In addition to loving people who were socially different, Jesus also loved those who detested and hated him. Those who treated him awfully. And he encouraged his adherents to do the same, without excuse.
In Luke 6:3236 we catch a glimpse of this seemingly backwards teaching 😛 TAGEND If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them.And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that.And if you lend to those from whom you expect refund, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your foes, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be childrenof the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful .
When we treat with kindness and respect those whom culture tells us we should loathe, or when we demonstrate love to those who mistreat or talk badly about us, we are modeling Jesus behavior. He was merciful, just as God our Father is merciful.
It is a countercultural idea to love those who are so unlike we areeven the individuals who due to our unlikeness are actually hostile toward usbut it is Divinities plan for how we should behave.
So today, will you dare to treat an oh-so-different-from-you-politically person with kindness, respect, and dignity? Will you lean in and listen to their views and to how they came to hold them? No need to agree with them. However, there is a need to love themthese politically polar-opposite people. Because?
Just because they are people .
People deserve our thoughtfulness. Our listening ear. Our esteem. Our honor. Our unconditional love.
And, occasionally, also a jar of our very best homemade jam.
Karen Ehman is a New York Times best-selling writer and the author of Listen, Love, Repeat: Other-Centered Living in a Self-Centered World. You can find her online at KarenEhman.com.
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