How to Love a Jerk Like Me
JULY 18, 2017
I have strong opinions about weird things, like pastel mints at weddings and zucchini masquerading as pasta.
I also have strong opinions about things that can be important, like politics and religion, abortion and the death penalty, the military, education, and good barbeque. I keep a lot of these opinions to myself, or only talk about them in muffled tones to close trusted friends. It’s weird times we live in. Not everyone is hateful, but expressing an opinion can be like walking through a mine field.
I recently watched a popular show where a host known for his socially liberal leanings had on a guest known for his socially conservative ones and they didn’t argue at all. They were just friends sitting in front of a fire where one didn’t throw the other in. It actually shook me. Then, when I realized how shaken I was, that shook me, too. I’ve become so used to thinking everyone yells at one another from their respective corners of the ring that it was shocking to see two people with such polar opposite views so close to one another, talking without picket signs, and laughing without derision.
I realized I’d become caught in a web of sorts. I’d leaned in, attracted by the anger of those I agree with against those I don’t. That’s sticky business: Feeling right. Feeling like I’m on the correct side can confer a drug-like euphoria. When I choose to live in an echo-chamber, surrounded by those screaming the things I want to hear, it feeds something self-righteous in me that craves more.
As a Christian, it can be hard to know when and how to stand up for what, and when. It’s humility that brings us to God, but then we beef up our egos on the idea that we are the only people with truth. But the truth we’re privy to isn’t what we make it out to be. It’s not some unified political theory or certainty about how to react in every situation, it’s a simple message of God’s love for all.
2 Corinthians 5:16-19:
“So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 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.”
I can love you. You may be wrong. I may be wrong. You may desire the thing that I believe threatens the fabric of our society. But I can love you. Because I’ve been reconciled in Christ. My sins weren’t counted against me. Yours either. It doesn’t make you or me less wrong. It doesn’t make our stupid ideas about life any smarter. But it does mean I can love you. My job isn’t to fix you. My mission isn’t to prove I’m right. My ministry is to spread the message of reconciliation, that “God [is] reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them.”
“Go to God and you will find love!”
I don’t have to push you away because we disagree; because you do something I find despicable; because of, well, anything, because I have new eyes that don’t see things from a worldly point of view.
I. Can. Love. You. Because God loved me.
I believe it’s impossible to be a minister of reconciliation while trying to prove to someone they’re an idiot. I get to keep my beliefs. I even get to stand up against injustice. But I’m forced to understand that I must see others as human beings loved by the Creator of the universe—not as the enemy. Democrats or Republicans, gay or straight, abortionist or pro-life activist: loved by God; made in His image. I can disagree, but the love of God must inform how I disagree. The ministry of telling others the good news that God is in the reconciling business supersedes all my other self-imposed missions and agendas.