“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 12:30-31
Don’t miss this: Jesus never said to love only people who are easy to love. He tells us simply to love. Every time I open up the Bible, I cannot help but notice the number of times God commands us to love the people around us. We’re told to love our enemies, our neighbors, our spouses, and the world alike. But while the Bible is pretty crystal clear that we should relentlessly love those we come across daily, it seems we often try to justify why we don’t need to show love the way Jesus intended us to.
I’ve heard everything from “But he might think I’m affirming his actions” to “She’s just not a nice person.” But no justification gives us the right to withhold love from anyone, let alone from those who are broken and in need of it the most. The love of Jesus has no bounds, no limits and no expectations. It just loves. If you call yourself a Christ follower, then you are called to reflect the same image with the same intensity. Love can take us places hate could never reach.
Withholding love is withholding Jesus. It’s possible to show love to those who are different from us without compromising core convictions. You want people to see Jesus when they see you, even when you oppose their thoughts or ideals. You want people to find comfort in your presence, forgiveness in your heart, and love in your soul. You want people to know they can confide in you without being brashly criticized and judged irrationally.
Jesus is pretty clear in what he says in the lines of Mark 12:31—the importance of love, especially when it comes to your neighbor: “The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these” (NIV). Pastors, teachers, brothers, and sisters, we are called to love all people in the name of Jesus. We are called to show compassion to those who need it. We are called to befriend those who are different from us, all to exude the grace and mercy of our Savior, Jesus. It may be messy, but it’s our calling.
This is an excerpt from Jarrid’s new book, Love is Oxygen