Love People More

The following post was written by Nathan Albert, Director of Pastoral Care at The Marin Foundation.

“A NEW command I give you: love one another.  As I have loved you so you must love one another.  By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” 

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” -Jesus

I will confess that I don’t love everyone.  If I had it my way, I would love only the popular people.  Or the people who I really like.  Or those who I get along with and can laugh with often.  I’m picky.

Actually, I want to love those who are easy to love. Or to put it a bit more bluntly, I want to love people I know will love me back.  I want to love people who will love me better than I love them.

Yet, that isn’t very loving of me.  It is loving with conditions.

And loving with conditions is, in actuality, not loving at all. Loving with strings attached isn’t loving at all. Loving with an agenda or expectations is not loving.  It’s just using people.

Oddly, I have found Christians to be most guilty of this (I count myself as a great offender).  This doesn’t remind me of Jesus’ commands at all.  Often I have found Christians loving people with the sole motive of changing their behavior.  Which, again, isn’t loving, but is simply behavior modification.

We say we “love” you but we don’t “love” what you do.  Or we believe that people have to be cleaned up, all fixed, already perfect, before we will love you and welcome you into our church communities.  We say, get your act together and then come into this loving community.

We say to divorced men and women: you’re wrong.  We say to single mothers: you’re messed up.  We say this to those who aren’t virgins: you should have been more pure.  We say to those with special needs: we don’t know how to help you here.  We say to the poor: you’re not rich enough.  We say to the rich: you should be poorer.  We say to the addicted: just quit.  We say to those within our churches who differ from our personal theological stance: you’re wrong and I’m right.

And in regards to the LGBT community, it seems some Christians “love” LGBT individuals in hopes that they will “change,” stop being gay, or will automatically choose to be celibate.  But if they don’t, we dehumanize them, turn them into “the least of these,” and then have nothing to do with them.  It’s no wonder they hate us so much.  It’s no wonder they mock all things Christian.  It’s no wonder they won’t step into our churches.

What are we missing out on?  I really think the Church is better when all people can belong.

We need to get the plank out of eyes.  We need to stop being so obtrusively hypocritical.

The reality is, who would want to be a part of a community that is known for what they are against rather than what they are for?  Who would want to be a part of a community that will love you with conditions?  Who would stick around and wait for someone to love them only after they have their act together?

I wouldn’t.  I need to be loved as I am; flawed, jacked up, picky, and scared.  Regardless of my sexual orientation, my lack of purity, my hateful thoughts, or any other list of failings that I have acquired in the last week, I need love to survive and I can’t have people loving me with conditions.  I won’t make it.

I believe in a God who has lavished Love on me.  And the more I realize this, the more I realize that there is nothing else I want to do with my life but lavish Love on others. The Scriptures say, ‘God so loved the world, that he gave.’  I want to so love that all I do is give.

We need this to snap inside our souls. We need to remember that mercy always triumphs over judgment.  It is time to love in such radical ways that the world will look upon us and say, “I’d like to be a part of that.”  It is time we are known for our love.

Much love,

www.themarinfoundation.org

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About Andrew Marin

Andrew Marin is President and Founder of The Marin Foundation (www.themarinfoundation.org). He is author of the award winning book Love Is an Orientation (2009), its interactive DVD curriculum (2011), and recently an academic ebook titled Our Last Option: How a New Approach to Civility can Save the Public Square (2013). Andrew is a regular contributor to a variety of media outlets and frequently lectures at universities around the world. Since 2010 Andrew has been asked by the United Nations to advise their various agencies on issues of bridging opposing worldviews, civic engagement, and theological aspects of reconciliation. For twelve years he lived in the LGBT Boystown neighborhood of Chicago, and is currently based St. Andrews, Scotland, where he is teaching and researching at the University of St. Andrews earning his PhD in Constructive Theology with a focus on the Theology of Culture. Andrew's research centers on the cultural, political, and religious dynamics of reconciliation. Andrew is married to Brenda, and you can find him elsewhere on Twitter (@Andrew_Marin), Facebook (AndrewMarin01), and Instagram (@andrewmarin1).

  • robg

    Sadly, between the anti-gay-marriage protests in America and the anti-gay lobbying of Christians in Ghana which is resulting in the arrests and persecution of gay people just for being gay, Christians are known for what they are against instead of what they are for, known for their hatred instead of for their love.

    How did so many of us end up being the opposite of Jesus??

  • http://www.graceground.com Sam in San Diego

    You’ve got it Nathan! In most instances I’ve found LGBTs to be much more loving and accepting than “Christians” (religious people).

    When we see LGBT friends we haven’t seen in a long time, its always hugs and “How are you?”. When we run across people who attend a couple of churches we used to attend, they try to go the other way or pretend they don’t know us. We just stopped attending their churches and never said anything negative to them or about them. Very telling, isn’t it?

  • Person

    “Regardless of my sexual orientation, my lack of purity, my hateful thoughts, or any other list of failings that I have acquired in the last week, I need love to survive and I can’t have people loving me with conditions.”

    Why is it that in this post sexual orientation is included in a sin list? I appreciate the general message of the post, but that one point seems rather telling. I’m assuming it was an oversight and Nathan didn’t intend for it to turn out that way, but I still feel I must point out that that is what ended up written so that a clarification or correction can be made.

  • Steven

    “Why is it that in this post sexual orientation is included in a sin list?”

    Because TMF believes that being gay, or at least having gay sex (and quite possibly the orientation too) is sinful.

    In post after post on this site homosexuality is constantly bracketed and associated with sin. There’s never a direct statement of course. Instead they rely on veiled hints and insinuations like the one above. The goal is to suggest subliminally that being gay is something we need to repent of.

    You can disregard their statements that TMF is neutral when it comes to sexual orientation. The real truth of their attitude comes across in the intentionally ambiguous and manipulative language they use. This is a Side B (with shades of Side X) ministry. They want us all to be celibate so they can say to God “Look, I forced them to see the truth. How much treasure does that buy me in heaven?”.

    Steven

  • http://jwalkergs.wordpress.com/ Jason

    “I believe in a God who has lavished Love on me. And the more I realize this, the more I realize that there is nothing else I want to do with my life but lavish Love on others. The Scriptures say, ‘God so loved the world, that he gave.’ I want to so love that all I do is give.”

    Wow!!! What an awesome way to say it. Would that we all live our lives this way!


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