Turn Off the News and Love Your Neighbor
“If you love deeply, you’re going to get hurt badly. But it’s still worth it.” -C. S. Lewis
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness. Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that.” -Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
“People grow when they are loved well. If you want to help others heal, love them without an agenda.” -Mike Mchargue
“Know this my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger.” -James 1:19
I have a friend who recently posted the following on Facebook a few days after the election: “Turn off the ‘news’, and love your neighbor.’” The image was of a beaten-up sign, that looked like it had been spray painted and put out in front of a business or on someone’s lawn.
The sign wasn’t large, invasive, or anything pretty to look at, but the words were and still are a powerful reminder: to love one another.
It’s been almost two weeks since the results of the United States’ Presidential election came out, and it’s been a long couple of weeks of thinking, reflecting, and praying on my end.
There’s still tension within our country. There’s still fear for what the future may hold. And there’s still so much uncertainty and anxiety that can overwhelm a soul when the news constantly bombards us with everything that’s wrong with our world.
I watched the news the first day after the election, and sporadically since then. As I’ve said in a previous post from the summer, I never want to tune out the world, but I can’t process events properly if I’m constantly being bombarded by everyone else’s opinion.
And I most certainly lose sight of the love and light in my heart if I’m constantly tuned in to fear, noise, and hate.
What I pour into my soul, will outpour through my thoughts, words, and actions. If I’m constantly pouring fear, worry, hate, frustration, and anger into my soul, that’s what will pour out.
My heart beats strongly for social justice, wrongs being made right, and truth being revealed, and with that, I strongly believe in the power of waiting, listening, and loving while seeking God for the right choice of words and the right choice of action.
And sometimes, that means no words and no actions.
Sometimes, it’s better for me just to listen to a friend, rather than putting in my two-sense.
Sometimes, it’s better for me to just smile and walk away rather than get into an argument.
It is possible to love someone without agreeing with them.
We can genuinely love people even if our views are different than theirs. This is what Jesus meant when he said, “Love your neighbor as yourself” -Mark 12:31.
Because most of the time, that “neighbor” for the day is someone that’s close to us; it’s someone that has set us off because he/she doesn’t agree with us.
It’s a spouse who didn’t take out the trash after saying he/she would.
It’s a friend who didn’t call on your birthday.
It’s the Facebook friend who posted a snarky comment to your post.
It’s the child who is ungrateful for the meal that was made.
It’s the person that cuts you off when you’re in the middle of telling a story.
It’s the little battles, the enemies of everyday lives that push us to have an outburst, to roll our eyes, or to go into a silent anger. We choose to be disgruntled and uneasy, and worst of all, we choose to be prideful. We choose to go on in our anger and lack of forgiveness, spreading it throughout the rest of our day.
We become short with our family.
We get impatient with the drive-thru worker.
We fail to see the elderly couple needing help with an item at the store.
Because we’re too busy in our anger and sulking to reach a state of repentance for our own actions and forgiveness for another.
Loving people isn’t just for the people we get along with and agree with. It’s a passion that should reside and overflow from our hearts because Christ first loved us.
Undeservedly, Christ showed compassion, caring, and ultimately love for the least of these. He went to the outcasts, the degenerates, the hated, the misunderstood, and listened to them, spoke to them, ate with them, befriended them, and most certainly loved them.
And it wasn’t because they deserved love, nor was it because he agreed with their actions or way of life, but rather he gave love because his heart desired to show the world what real love looks like- what God’s love looks like.
God’s love is a joyful willingness to put others before ourselves- agape love. And it’s a love that only stems from the one true source- God himself.
We are all human, and we are beautifully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). We all have a desire for love- it’s entrenched in our very beings. And it’s not easy; some days it can be extremely difficult. But, we can choose to love despite our circumstances and despite our feelings.
True love does not overflow from feelings and circumstances, but rather, love overflows from a sacrificial heart that’s in-tune with our Heavenly Father.
He desires for us to be content, to have hearts that overflow with a love that can only be given from a God whose very name is the definition of what love truly is.
I know love doesn’t always overflow from my lips, but I pray that God would continue to work on my heart, mind, and soul to change me and shape me to be a vessel that is used for His glory, His truth, and to share in His love.
Because His love is the most powerful, life-changing gift this world has received. And it needs to be shared by the image-bearers of this earth.
How can we genuinely love people even if we don’t see eye-to-eye with them?
We can hold the door for someone when we walk into a store.
We can make the new mom a dinner for her growing family.
We can let the car behind us, who seems in more of a hurry than we are, pass us and go on his way.
We can slow down and say “Hello, how is your day going?” to the check-out person at the grocery store.
We can genuinely listen in our conversations, and be watchful of how we use our words- are we using our words to lift up, or are we using them to tear down?
We can offer to pay for a person’s groceries or fast food order who is in line behind us.
We can give our time to set up a coffee date with a friend who is having a rough time.
We can offer to babysit a friend’s children so that she can have a night out with her husband.
We can call and tell our parents that we love them.
We can give a gift to that person who doesn’t get a “thank you” all that often- the mail carrier, the cashier at the store, the gas station attendant, the garbage collectors.
We can send a letter to a grandparent that we don’t see that often.
We can invite the neighbors over for dinner who may look different than us, speak differently, and have a different lifestyle than we do.
We can stop to thank a veteran for their service.
We can offer to help clean the dishes at a social gathering.
Choose to turn off the news, and love your neighbor.
“You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best- the sun to warm and the rain to nourish- to everyone, regardless: the good and the bad, the nice and the nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that. In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.” -Matthew 5:43-48 MSG