Have you ever struggled to love someone that you knew you should? Maybe it is a lazy coworker, or an obnoxious sibling, or a mean boss. We read of Jesus’ command to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and strength and to love your neighbor as yourself. We all know that there are people who we are called to serve and to love but sometimes it seems that the expectation is that we should be doing this naturally. When we do not feel this way it is easy to ask what is wrong with me? There is something wrong with us. We are naturally programed to love those who love us and to hate those who hate us. For the Christian this should not be so.
During my high school years, I was a homeschooled student who was duel-enrolled at the public high school. This allowed me to attend any classes I wanted to as well as compete in athletics. During my time playing basketball I had a particularly hard time fitting in. I could not understand this because I was an above average athlete. I assumed this would punch my ticket to acceptance if not popularity. I was wrong. There was a particular group of boys who made it their goal to make me feel like an outsider. I can say there was no love in me for these individuals. I knew that I should be trying to reach others with the gospel but I was so concerned with what people thought of me that I completely lost sight of that.
I think many of us have people in some if not all areas of our lives that for whatever reason we find difficult to love. This is where we need to understand that love is not a feeling but an act of obedience. We are sinful people who are prone to love people who love and add benefit to us, and to treat people who don’t with indifference or even animosity.
There were days during my time in school where I realized that even though I did not have a natural love within me for particular individuals, I was called to love them anyway. How is it possible to love someone you don’t feel like loving? It is possible because we love our Savior who loved us when we were unlovely and continues to love us even when we fail Him over and over. We can act in love toward someone out of obedience to the Savior. It follows this principle, “He who has been forgiven much loves much, but he who has been forgiven little loves little.” Now it isn’t as if Jesus was saying here that some believers didn’t need as much forgiveness as others. He is saying that those who truly recognize how much they have been forgiven will truly love the way we should. I believe that when we fail to love, we fail to recognize just how bad we were and even still are.
So, what is the point of all this? The point is, we can truly act in love toward people we find unlovely. Not out of a “faking it” love, but because we truly love our Savior for what He has done for us. It is at this point He will begin to change our hearts and we will be able to truly love those who are unlovable. Who is the person in your life that you are being called to act in love toward? You really can love that person if you recognize the love that God has first shown you.