(Continued from Love. One.Another. )
Jesus starts talking about love by talking about murder.
He’s against it.
If we love others, it means that we don’t randomly or passionately murder them. That makes sense. But I’ve never murdered anyone. Does that mean I’ve loved them?
Jesus says, “No. If you’ve mocked them. If you’ve demeaned and devalued them. If you bullied them. If you’ve gossiped about them. In God’s eyes, that’s the same as killing them.”
Because we are stripping them of their human value. We are dismissing any sense that they are created in God’s image, that they bear his image.
Then Jesus makes two practical illustrations.
If you are on your way to church. And while you are traveling, you remember that someone you will see at church is mad at you, or you are mad at them. Rather than figuring out how to avoid them, make a point to find them. Fix the problem. Regardless of whose fault it is. Because Jesus doesn’t indicate who is right and who it wrong in his example. Restore relationship. It’s even more important than getting to church on time.
And this is hard. And this is dangerous. More than once I’ve been in this situation and thought, “Okay, God. You win. I should take care of this.” And the person shows up in front of me before I have the chance to procrastinate.
But it’s giving God what he loves. Love.
The second illustration is that we are to make things right before the courts do. If someone is suing you, make it right. It’s more valuable to have the relationship than the money, particularly when, in this illustration, you’ll lose the money anyway.
Here’s the challenge with this teaching, and the rest.
It’s hard. It demands that we trust what Jesus says about results of obedience.
Our tendency is to look for loopholes. “But what about that situation. If that happened, would I have to?” And if we can find the impossible situation, we think that we can ignore the whole teaching.
But Jesus wants us to start. And see how far it goes. I’m guessing that he will give us the courage to start small, to be kind on Facebook before we have to be kind to a real person.