One of the most important directions that we receive as Christians is to love the world the same way Christ loves us. In a world that seems to be full of anger and fake people, it can be hard to remember how to do that. If you’re unsure of how exactly to love others, just take note of how Christ loves you.
He loves you unconditionally. This means that you can’t do anything to earn his love, and you also can’t do anything to make him love you any less. What does this look like when we translate it to us loving others? Well, others can’t do anything to earn your love. You can’t love someone more when they do nice things for you. This might seem confusing, because obviously when someone is kind to you, this makes you like them a little more. It’s just how friendships and relationships logically work. But I want to point out the difference between liking someone and loving someone; you can love someone without liking them, and vice versa. A certain person might dislike you and everything you stand for, and maybe they actively try to tear you down. As a follower of Christ, you’re not commanded to like them. You can feel free to remove yourself from their presence if they’re detrimental to you or your faith. But you are commanded to humble yourself and love this person, which means that you recognize they’re also a beloved child of God struggling with their own sin, and you’ve got to live as an example of Jesus, even around them. On the flip side of the coin, take a bit to think about this: How do you, in your life, like people without loving them?
He loves you unapologetically. When I say unapologetically, I mean that Jesus isn’t ashamed of his love for us, even though we are such broken and sinful people. He wants you, in all your mess and your confusion. You don’t have to clean up your act before coming to him. In the same way, others shouldn’t have to clean up their act in order for you to love them. You’re not called to love only the perfect people. You are called to love others in the midst of their mistakes and in spite of their mistakes. When someone might question your love for another broken, sinful person, you can’t get bashful or change the subject because you’re uncomfortable proclaiming this love. Let your love be louder than the world’s hate.
He loves you more than anything else. Literally anything you could possibly think of. He loves you more than the rest of his creation, and in my opinion, he’s created some pretty incredible things in this world. But he loves you as the most incredible one. In the same way, you should put your love for this world ahead of your love for anything in your own life. You can’t love money more than people, you can’t love your grades more than people, you can’t love your church more than people, none of that. While all these might be positive and good things (taken in the right contexts), they cannot supercede the command to love others. This might be the hardest part of this commandment, even harder than loving those people you don’t like. So many other things demand our attention that it can be hard to remember that your purpose as a Christian is to love people, not just those that are similar to you.
Pray and ask the Lord to show you how to best love others in your own life. Ask him if you have any behaviors that show anything but love, and if you do, ask him to soften your heart and change these behaviors. Love this broken and shameful world so loudly that people can’t help but notice Jesus through your actions.