I love people. I really do. And it’s not just something I tell myself or other people to convince me that it’s true. But sometimes I think we underestimate the cost of a word like love. For instance, I in any given day will utter the phrase “I love Dr. Pepper” and a few breaths later tell my wife, “I love you”. But obviously these two things don’t, or at least shouldn’t carry the same weight. So what does it mean for us to say we love each other? Just last night we were hashing out a portion of our church’s mission statement (Worshiping God, Loving People, Serving the World) and we got a bit hung up on what it means to truly love people. We even read the famous passage from 1 Corinthians 13 about love and realized the gravity of the call to love. The one phrase that always seems to trip me up is, “Love keeps no record of wrongs”.
Let’s be honest for a minute. There are some people we keep at a distance because of their behavior. We may not physically push them away or go out of our way to avoid them, but we do create space between us. Whether it is through things we say to to other people, posts and articles we share on Facebook or other varieties of social media, or views we have espoused in the past, we have inadvertently kept a record of wrongs and it has been killing our witness. I think another way to look at this is from Paul’s other letter to the Corinthian church. “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.” – 2 Corinthians 5:18-20. I want you to catch this…God was reconciling all people to Himself not counting their sins against them. And then the craziest part? We are now ambassadors of that same reconciliation…as if God himself is working through us.
So let’s backtrack a bit. When I say that I love people, it takes on a whole new dynamic. I need to see people as God sees them. So desperate to reconcile that he doesn’t even count their sins against them but instead reaches out with arms of love and draws them into Himself. So when I see people I no longer see their sins, their depravity, their brokenness…I simply see someone that God is desperate to reconcile and in that fashion I love them. If we say we love people then we are called to throw away our agendas, our preconceived notions, our biases, our fear, our misunderstanding, our political alignments, our view of their sins and simply love. And what does love do? “…love covers over a multitude of sins.” – 1 Peter 4:8. May we learn to stop counting and stop distancing ourselves through any kind of medium and simply, truly, deeply, love.