After the horrific attack in Orlando in which 49 people were murdered and another 50+ injured a lot of people are talking about mourning with those who mourn, and rightly so. This is biblical counsel.
Other direct our focus to loving and caring for the families left behind, and those from the community of the fallen. In Orlando it was the gay community. In Charleston the Christian community. In Oregon the educational community. In Newtown the local community. And on and on.
Many have offered help to the community of Orlando. Chick-Fil-A opened on Sunday to provide meals to families, workers, and blood donors. Other restaurants did the same.
Followers of Jesus are eager to demonstrate love in the aftermath of this horrific act.
But, some are not impressed. Perhaps it’s the rawness of the moment. Perhaps it’s just suppressed feelings boiling over. Perhaps it’s that we haven’t listened as intently as we should. The truth remains: many people aren’t impressed with love after the fact.
Love after the fact is too easily attributed to a guilty conscience. Love after the fact is too easily seen as an attempt to wipe ourselves clean. Love after the fact it too easily seen as insincere.
What then? Why not love first?
Why not love first since He first loved us? (1 John 4:19)
Why not love first since love is the fulfillment of the law? (Romans 13:10)
Why not love first since we commanded to love our neighbor as ourself? (Mark 12:31)
Why not love first because this is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and gave His Son to be an offering for our sins. (1 John 4:10)
Why not love first since it’s the reason God gave His one and only Son for the sins of the world? (John 3:16)
Why not love first since the love of God has been poured out in our hearts? (Romans 5:5)
Why not love first since God demonstrated His love in the giving of Jesus? (Romans 5:8)
Why not love first since we’re supposed to love even our enemies, and most of the people we are called to love aren’t even that? (Luke 6:27)
Why not love first because God is love? (1 John 4:8)
It isn’t that our love re-does what Jesus did; those things are already done. It truly is finished. But when we love as God loves we embody the love that accomplished those things.
Yes, there will be some who think love means we approve of all content in life’s closets. Yes, there will be those who insist it is hypocrisy to say “I love you” without condoning behavior the believe valid. But, we make zero progress if we spend all our time arguing that we do love, when we have the option of showing it fervently and continuously. Love, not debate, is the great convincer.
Loving those who are least like me is when I am most like Christ.
I would guess, on the whole, we tend to be more expert in loving the things of the world, which is forbidden, than we are at loving the people of the world, which is commanded.
Jesus regularly appeared condemnable to reach people who were condemned. It is easy for us to look back 2,000 years later and say, “Oh, that’s why Jesus did that.” His immediate audience, though, did not always understand what He was doing. Sometimes it looked like Jesus was sinning while Jesus was saving. Even the Twelve periodically stopped to ask, “Hey, uh, what exactly was thatall about?”
Talking to the woman at the well, touching the unclean, being touched by the unclean, being crucified—all of these acts gave a questionable public appearance.
We love to talk about the woman at the well, don’t we? Jesus confronts the woman about her sinfulness. She nearly always makes an appearance in modern discussions.
What we often overlook is the length to which Jesus had put His reputation at risk before He ever “confronted her” about her sin. He interacted with a woman who was a Samaritan, a woman, and a woman with a sordid sexual past and present. All three of these were taboos for Jewish rabbis. When the disciples returned from seeking food, even they were shocked that Jesus talked to her at all.
In fact, if we look at the ministry of Jesus, He seemed to have tenderness for people who had sexual struggles. He was approachable. He did not gain this reputation by using, “You’re a perv” for an opening line. The woman at the well, the woman caught in adultery, the woman who anointed His feet were all people who had sexual issues.
We err if we think Jesus was only demeaned in becoming sin for us. Jesus not only bore our sins in His death; He often bore our disrepute in His life.
Here’s a shocker: we can learn a lot from Jesus, not just whether to love, but how to love. This is a place we disciples need to be more like the Master.
Let’s love first.
Featured image credit.