I suppose the title of the post asks it all.
How then shall we love?
Oh sure, we are called to love the poor, the oppressed, the marginalized, and the enslaved or imprisoned; sometimes that can seem like an easy love. A little hint, both from personal experience and the wisdom of others: if loving these people seems easy simply because God asked us to do it, it's probably not a deep love. Even scarier, it may not even be love at all.
We have a woman who spends her days sitting in our Centre — beautiful, and struggling with schizophrenia. When she's not sitting here, she's wandering the streets muttering curses under her breath, singing every lyric to every classic rock'n'roll song since the '60s, or staring off into space. She doesn't have many friends, so when she's here she makes up for it triple time and starts conversations with us even if we're speaking with other people. She stomps right over our words and demands an audience. I suspect loneliness plays a big part in her behaviour, with or without the mental illness. But some days it can be quite exhausting trying to make sure everyone else dropping in for assistance is seen to while bearing the need of this one woman. Tough love: not always about toughening up on the other person. Sometimes it's plain tough on us all. Her need is great. Our capacity to give seems feeble, and sometimes really just not desiring or desirable. That's tough love.
But the kind of love I'm pondering is the love between brothers and sisters in Christ.
I wrote about growing pains for anyone straining to grow within and without respective Christian traditions. So I'm wondering: how do we love those who we perceive as 'wrong'?
Here's tough love.
Speaking from my own experience, when someone tells me I'm not truly saved, or that they cannot have fellowship with me because I've chosen an easy faith or the wrong or false Gospel, it hurts. It really wounds me deeply not only because it's not true, but it shows me that love really is conditional. Having said that, I ruminate on all the times in my life past and present where I have denied something else their expression of faith in Jesus.
"That CAN'T be real. They're be so legalistic!"
"They're preaching at hungry people thinking it's what they need most. How loving is THAT?"
When I struggle with loving those whom I see as perhaps unloving, intolerant (buzz word!), unwilling to understand, or super-duper at proof-texting to stomp down someone else's incredible faith, I sense that struggle keenly: "is there a right or wrong here?", "What am I not seeing?", "How can I accept this as geunine faith, Lord, when others are suffering because of my brothers and sisters' actions?"
If Christ is Love Himself/Herself/Itself (please don't send me emails on article usage… I'll just delete them as nonsense, and missing the point of the post entirely), then by nature of this Infinite Love, there must be infinite ways TO love.
Am I off the mark here?
I might not like how others are loving me or other people, but how do I love them back (knowing they feel the same way about me)?
Sometimes, we do need to receive gentle rebukes because how we are loving others is pretty lousy. Other times, we're the ones doing the rebuking and it can be hard to draw in the gentleness into our tones rather than harshness. I mean, I have a huge problem when people preach that the best way to love people is to tell them they're hell-bound. They could be starving, addicted, abandoned, homeless or none of the above but still having NO relationship with the evangelist whatsoever, and the evangelist still believes in this God-given mission to warn 'the other' of hell, like a parent would rescue an errant child from wandering into a busy street.
Too many doctrinal, theological, and relational errors here for me to start. Suffice it to say, I don't agree and I find it difficult to answer to those who feel threatened by such 'love'. But I am called to love all anyway. Would this be a time for rebuke? Or are my brothers and sisters loving the best way they feel called to?
No answers here.
Putting the questions out into the void.
How do we love those we believe are expressing Christ's love in ways that we think are hurting people?