They’re only Human
We are living in a day and age when being offended is as common as preaching. Criticism is flowing like water, and having your own opinion is considered hate speech. We have no room for people’s opinions, and no patience for the people around us. Certainly, the spread of COVID-19 has tamed this as bit, but people are still people. I think this is why Jesus doesn’t let us off the hook on this one.
1 Corinthians 13 (in The Message paraphrase) talks to us about the nature of love, describing it as never giving up, caring more for others than self. It says love doesn’t strut or have a swelled head. It doesn’t force itself on others. It doesn’t fly off the handle or keep score. It always looks for the best in others. Love is not easily offended.
As it turns out, the people all around you are only human. The people running their mouths on social media, or cutting you off in the grocery store line or stockpiling toilet paper like it’s the pooping apocalypse- they are humans. They are confused, scared, angry, hurting, desperate for hope, humans. And what they need more than anything is for you, in the midst of it all, to just love them.
Because we often associate love with feelings (and a positive one at that), we find it hard to love people we don’t feel positively about. But scripture reminds us first that love is a choice, and second, that it is a command.
First, love is a choice. Erwin McManus, in his book The Barbarian Way describes love less like a guarantee of warm feelings and more like a promise of pain. The more you love someone, the more you give them permission to hurt you. Loving people like Jesus about warm fuzzy feelings. It’s about impacting the world with the sacrificial love of Christ, even when and especially because they don’t deserve it.
Second, love is a command. Straight from Jesus. We are called to love others as much as we love ourselves. And we are called to love Him with all we are. We are not called to choose one of these. We are called to do both. We are commanded to.
So the next time you venture out in this season, or jump onto social media or interact with your neighbor across the fence, do the world a favor…treat the people you interact with like Jesus. After all, they’re only human.