Caleb's junior year of college, he took a class entitled Marriage and the Family at a non christian college. I, ironically that same semester, took a class entitled Marriage and the Christian Home at a Christian college.
We spent many nights that semester on the phone discussing the differences between these two classes with similar names and subject matters.
While I was discovering family bias's, gender roles, and learning how to place God at the center of all relationships. Caleb was being taught something very different.
One particular night he was exceptionally fired up after a frustrating class. The professor was pretty cynical when it came to love, specifically the dating relationship. This particular class the professor used an example of how guys pay for dinner and/or express love with the notion the girl will provide something in return. I understand he was very specific in what the girl was to return, if you know what I am saying. The point being that love is conditional and, therefore, superficial.
I sat in my tiny dorm room while Caleb and I dissected all of our thoughts on love over our flip phones.
We are old, people.
We ultimately agreed to disagree with that professor.
However, all too many times this is exactly how the world views love. It looks at love as conditional, superficial, and reserved only for those who look, sound, and believe just like me.
Our churches are filled with people shouting love, love, love. Love the orphan. Love the homeless. Love the unloved.
But at the same time our churches are splitting over neck ties, song choices, and auditorium temperatures.
I find it fascinating that Jesus shares these words to his closest followers, while most likely wearing sandals, 2,000 years before any 90 year old ladies complained about the ministers choice in footwear at the pulpit.
"I am giving you a new commandment, and it's this: love one another! Just as I have loved you, so you must love one another. This is how everybody will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." John 13: 34-35
He tells them to love one another AND by this they will know they are His.
Jesus knew in order to get people to buy into this life of sacrifice and love, the disciples, the very ones he put his faith into continue sharing the gospel, MUST LOVE EACH OTHER.
If they weren't united, then it wouldn't work.
If Peter loved the poor, but didn't love John, then it was superficial.
If James only loved Matthew when he agreed with everything he said, then it was conditional.
And if Timothy adopted an orphan, but wouldn't even acknowledge Andrews existence, then it was pointless.
When our love becomes superficial and conditional, it becomes something people run from rather than run towards.
Is it possible that the unlovable person in your life is your own brother or sister in Christ? Have we become so outwardly focused that we have failed to cultivate and preserve the relationships with each other? What if "the church people" have become the very people we want to run from?
What good does it do to love those who don't yet know Jesus, if we can't even love those who already do?
I believe it is counterproductive.
I am not asking you to abandon all efforts of outreach or evangelism.
I am not asking you to abandon your preferences on dress or worship, necessarily.
I am not asking you to stop buying TOMS.
I am asking you to think about who among your fellow believers you are failing to love.
I am asking you to offer respect to those believers who may not agree with everything you say.
I am asking you to offer compassion instead of defenses when with your body of believers.
I am asking you to work through your problems instead of spreading them to others.
I am asking you to love one another.
I am asking you to be a community of people so committed and engrossed in love that outsiders want to be apart of it.
It is intertwined with God.
Christ loved the church so much that he was willing to die for it.
I think it is time we try to do the same.