“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful, it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” – 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
In 2002 while helping lead a MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) program, I had this idea of bringing in a speaker of the Islam faith to talk about their religion -not to recruit for their faith, but to educate our group on what they believe. (MOPS is a Christian organization.) A mosque was being built in our city at the time and with the events of 9/11 so fresh, I simply wanted a better understanding of the unknown religion that was on the news and was obviously already in our area. In my mind, I was trying as a mom raising kids in a Christian home to determine how I was going to respond to people of a different belief system.
The idea was shot down immediately. Other moms had very definite feelings about if Islam was an appropriate subject for a MOPS meeting. While it may not have been the right platform or timing for the discussion, the fear that came out when the subject was approached had already developed into a strong judgment.
Recently, a friend’s son announced that he was gay. Heartbroken from her son choosing a lifestyle that conflicted with her value system, my friend really didn’t know how to handle the situation; then feeling condemned by other people in her faith community telling her how her son was going to “burn in hell”, her heart took a further blow as the wound cut deeper into her heart. Now she struggles working through values she has been taught, scriptures she has read and the life of faith she is living while parenting through a difficult time.
Two different stories. Both impacted by belief systems and the judgment surrounding them.
Judgment. One of the things I’ve noticed about judgment is its ability to harden my heart. For me, that hardness travel’s a highway from fear to pride. Pride, the sin that sets me up to thinking I know more than God. I go from fear of not knowing how to love someone with conflicting convictions (or even unscriptural) to believing I know better than God on how to handle those differences (That is why I’m judging, right? A need to exert my all knowing power.). Am I really trusting in God’s omnipotent power when I judge?
It doesn’t matter which side the judgment comes from. It may be right wing or left wing, white or black, pro-choice or pro-life, heterosexual or homosexual, Christian or non-Christian, homeschool or public school, coffee or tea, meat or vegan, …the list of conflicting choices goes on and on.
So my struggle comes to this… How do I love even when I disagree?
There will always be conflict in this world.
As a Christian, Jesus tells me, at least, two things about love. He says who to love and what love looks like.
Who: Love God first and then love my neighbors. (Mark 12: 30-31)
What love looks like: The actions of love are described in 1 Corinthians13:4-7. “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful, it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
These are challenging verses. They require me to take my opinions out of the equation. They require me to pray through my uncomfortableness and give up always having to be the one with the right answer. They require sacrifice of myself to hold my temper when if feel insulted. They require me to put my faith where it belongs- in God who will guide me to the proper response. If I do not follow this response, I risk my pride standing in God’s way. Thus, setting myself up as an idol against God. God is love. God’s love will not pour through me if I am standing in His way.
John Fischer on his blog, The Catch, wrote recently, “Loving someone doesn’t mean you condone anything; it just means you love.” That is a profound statement. It’s very freeing, because it allows God’s love to work through me instead of my opinions and judgments (meaning, I don’t have to have all the answers to “fix” the conflict. God is the fixer.) It allows me to invest in people through encouragement and prayer. It allows me to speak God’s truth without taking it personally when someone else disagrees. Most importantly though, it allows God to have the glory by sending love through me to hopefully take root in someone else.
So, I wonder…what is my world going to look like when I quit letting my judgments get in the way of God’s love?
A tremendous challenge. Something definitely worth working on.