The title of today’s post comes from something I read on a friend’s Facebook timeline last week. The parentheses are mine.
Before I explain why I used such a controversial comment as a blog post title, I’d like to expand on it.
You can also unfriend me if you're voting for
- or whoever else is left by the time you read this.
Or if you’re voting for none of the above.
You can unfriend me. For those or any other reasons.
But I hope you won't.
The same goes if you're
- or you hate puppies.
You can unfriend me. But I hope you won't.
Not All Choices are Equal
The items I've listed are not equally valid ways to vote, live or believe. Some are noble and uplifting. Some are horribly sinful and repulsive. Some are morally neutral.
If you and I disagree on which items are good, bad or neutral, you can unfriend me. But I hope you won't.
Even if you hate me because I have friends from every option on this list, you can unfriend me. But I hope you won't.
Because Jesus loves them all. Including you. And me.
Loving Our Enemies
Various ‘unfriend me if you…’ requests have been popping up on my social media streams lately. I expect them to grow in popularity as the election gets closer and battle lines get drawn more thickly in the sand.
But I won’t be unfriending anyone.
Because Jesus never did that.
Jesus had all kinds of people in his life. He loved Judas (who betrayed him) and Nicodemus (a Pharisee) as much as he loved John, who never left his side.
He was regularly accused of spending time with prostitutes, drunks, gluttons and other sinners, including people whose political and theological choices were his polar opposite. Like Samaritans, Romans and tax collectors.
Jesus was emphatic that we are to love those we disagree with, including our enemies, not just those who are on our side.
If loving people was easy, the cross would never have been necessary.
Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost. No matter what state of lostness we find ourselves in.
And Jesus wants us to reach lost people, no matter where they are on matters of taste, race, religion and moral choices. It’s hard to reach people when we’re constantly unfriending them. Or carrying unfriendly attitudes.
Don’t get me wrong, salvation requires repentance. Of the sins I commit and the sins you commit. Of the sins we love to denounce and the sins we try to excuse.
I’m also fully aware that Jesus used a whip, called out hypocrites as serpents, and was hated enough to be crucified. Because he pointed out that our choices have consequences.
Being loving doesn’t mean being spineless.
But it does mean that, no matter our sin, no matter our repentance or lack thereof, the first thing people need to know is this:
Jesus loves you.
But they’ll only know that if they see it in us. Which is really hard through all the ‘unfriend’ rhetoric.
Jesus loves me whatever my choices – moral, immoral and neutral. So why should I draw the line of love and friendship at your choices, sinful or not?
Love Is Bigger
We don't have to agree in order to love each other.
In fact, in the places we disagree, I’m going to try to change your mind and your heart. Just like you’ll probably try to change mine.
When you sin, I’ll warn you about it. Because I love you.
But my warnings aren’t likely to have much influence on you unless you know I care about you, first.
So let's not be so fast on the trigger with all the ‘If you're (fill-in-the-blank), you can unfriend me’ memes and attitudes.
I know you have a strong opinion. And the ‘unfriend’ request feels brave and noble. But it’s not. It’s just divisive.
Loving only the people who look, act and believe like we do makes for a very small world. One with very little room for redemption.
I want to see the world get better. My world, your world, and our world.
But I can’t influence our world toward the good if I isolate myself from large chunks of it. Or from you. Or you from me.
It's only when we widen our arms that we can broaden our influence.
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