When we make the choice to love and listen, it can be easy to be hurt, offended, and even turned off by the words and experiences of others. It is easy to say their pain is unrelated to me, unimportant to me, and impossible to change. I want to challenge us to count the cost of what it would look like to consider other people’s feelings as just as important, if not more important, than our own. In Mark, Jesus tells us that the second greatest commandment in the entire Bible is to love our neighbor as ourself. He then goes on to describe what a “neighbor” is in His definition. We then see the story of the good Samaritan. Think of the implications of that story. We see a man stranded, beaten, and robbed by thieves and the people we expect to help and love him (people of his same religious and ethnic background) move to the side. Then we see someone “the good Samaritan” who is of different ethnicity and religion cross the barriers set up for him by his ancestors and simply help. He saw the need and met it, in doing so, sacrificing his time, money, and dignity.
Think of what this man’s parents and loved ones would say if they saw him betraying his cultural norms to love well. I believe that God is calling us to the same level of humility. One definition of humility is a spirit of submission. I believe God is calling us to be submissive to one another’s feelings and experiences even if it hurts our pride and cultural norms. When you hear people share their stories with you, do thoughts of pride rise up in you? Are you ever tempted to defend yourself from fully acknowledging the pain of your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ? I think if we listen well, every single one of us could fall into that temptation. We could even go to the point of casting blame on why that person’s experience is the way that it is. If you are that person, I encourage you to try submitting yourself fully to someone’s feelings. Acknowledge them, work to understand them, ask yourself have I caused them. It is of great importance to note that this challenge of humility is for all people. We all need to be able to lay down our offenses to faithfully engage one another about topics that are typically hard and painful to share. Humility can often be looked at as cowardice, but I think it takes great bravery to live as “the good Samaritan” lived.
I do not think that we can see true reconciliation of man until we love in a way that requires courageous humility. Only until we decide that our unifying factor of belief in Jesus is more important than anything that can divide, will we be able to see all peoples come together. When we are unified, with Jesus as our Cornerstone, we are free to celebrate and love our differences because our differences are no longer barriers to each other. Read Ephesians 2:14-22. This kind of love is challenging and cannot be done in our flesh. We must employ the fruits of the Holy Spirit to become one in Jesus’ name. Let it be so that we will be a people who humbly loves one another in such a way that the Kingdom is built up never to be torn down. I referenced the second greatest commandment earlier in this talk, but let’s never forget the first. To love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and mind. Humbly loving one another is an act of love not only for our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, it’s an act of love for our Father! Let’s love our Father well by loving his people well!
Ephesians 2:14-22New International Version (NIV)
14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.