I walked into Goodwill the other day and stumbled upon a great find. It was wrapping paper for 10 cents a roll. I immediately reached for Mr. Washington, secure in my wallet and informed the clerk I would take ten rolls.
Many people were appalled when I told them this because the wrapping paper was Justin Bieber wrapping paper. It was bright blue and orange and gloriously covered in candid’s from the Bieb’s career. Who wouldn’t want this? turns out, most anyone.
Weather its Justin Bieber, Richard Sherman, President Obama, Miley Cyrus, John Boehner, the Barrista who made your drink wrong, The guy who cut you off on the way to work, homosexuals, heterosexuals, news anchors, or anyone else, we all hate someone.
Many of us hate a lot of people.
Everyone has their own hate list.
My wife knows that the guy who makes me shovel the sidewalk well into his area has been on mine for the last few years.
Who is on yours hate list?
I mean everybody from people you just prefer not to be around to people you would physically assault if free from consequence.
We have two ways of lying to ourselves when it comes to people we hate.
1: We say we don’t hate anyone but we strictly avoid anyone who we disagree with. We don’t have to technically hate people because we are never around anyone who isn’t exactly like us. We stay inside our bubble. We say we love people outside the bubble but we never go out to actually know them. I can’t say that I love my wife if I never see her, never talk to her and live in a different place. It doesn’t work.
2: Some of us don’t stay in the bubble. We say things like, “hate the sin, love the sinner,” but we have a whole lot of trouble separating the two. Our actions toward the sin irrevocably affect the sinner as well. This manifests itself in small ways, like seeing a story on the news you disagree with and making offhanded comments, or in big ways, like angry Christian protestors gathering pretty much anywhere.
At best we tolerate people. We like them, in the most basic sense. And we confuse our like for love.
Maybe we don’t actually love to hate people but we certainly don’t love to love them.
What is interesting is that Jesus spent a disproportionate about of time with people the world seemed to hate. From what we can tell from the Gospels, the world loved to criticize, loved to judge, and love to hate the people Jesus spent the majority amount of time with.
Many of the religious people in Jesus’ day viewed the people he hung out with as enemies of the church. They hated the tax collectors, the prostitutes, the drunks, the misfits.
But not Jesus.
He walked into Jericho to a reception that filled the streets. But he called out to a man in a tree, who just so happened to be a chief tax collector, and spent time with him. The man was in the tree because the crowd despised him. Jesus called him about because Jesus loved him. The crowd mumbled criticisms at Jesus. He didn’t care.
Jesus was teaching in the temple when the religious leaders dragged in a woman caught in adultery and threw her at Jesus’ feet. They wanted to stone her. They hated her. They threw her down. Not Jesus, he picked her up, and sent her on her way.
Jesus called one of his first disciples. A guy who would be one of the founders of the early Church; his name was Levi. He was a also tax collector. He invited his friends, who are only known in Scripture as tax collectors and sinners. Others questioned why Jesus ate with them. Jesus ate with them anyways.
And why did he? His response is the same as it has been for 2000, because he came to the sinners, not to the righteous.
We think that to love everyone, we have to like everyone.
The Ancient Greek word that would equate to our word for “like” is the word Philia φιλία. It means friendship or preference.
He doesn’t call us to simply have Philia for people.
One day Jesus was standing on a hillside speaking to a group of followers.
He looked out and said “Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.”
The word Jesus used here is Agápe ἀγάπη It means love in a deep spiritual sense.
He doesn’t care if we like people, but he calls us to love people.
Why? Because he did.
I don’t have to like my non-shoveling neighbor, Justin Bieber, or anybody else, but I do have to love them, because I love Jesus.