We're talking about how it is that we think the love of Jesus starts outside the church, and we are not so good at loving one another inside the church. Our love is...mixed, at best. It's picky. It varies depending on who we're talking about and a whole bunch of factors that include, for most of us, who we "like."
But God never told us to like one another.
In fact, I think that's one of our greatest obstacles, not just to our one anothering, but to our worship. And this, too, comes from our culture.
Our culture teaches us that if we don't like something, we don't have to engage with it. Life is too short, they say. Why waste it doing things we don't enjoy?
So if you don't like your job, quit. If you don't like your house, remodel. If you don't like your spouse, divorce. If you don't like your kids, distance yourself. If you don't like your new outfit, return it. If you don't like your church, change it. If you don't like the person who sits next to you in the pew, don't talk to them. You don't have to engage things in this world that you don't like.
And this, of course, extends into worship. If you don't like the music, don't sing. If you don't like the quiet, don't pray. If you don't like reading, God's okay if you don't read your Bible. If you do like raunchy movies or coarse language, go ahead; it's fine.
Here we are, thousands of years and many generations later, and we have Israel's problem: if you don't like the wilderness, go back to Egypt.
But I digress.
Jesus never said that we have to like each other. He never said that the world will know we are Christians by our like. We don't pick up our cross every day for the like of God.
It's all about love.
And when we read the New Testament, we see this in action. When Paul wrote to the churches, he sometimes wrote to and about persons who didn't like each other very much. Persons who were in conflict. Persons whose conflict was spilling over into the congregation at large. And he told these congregations plainly, work with them. They don't have to like each other, but they can love each other, and so can you. Don't let a little interpersonal strife ruin your love.
We aren't meant to pick and choose. We aren't meant to care for some more than others, even though our natural fallen human instinct makes that true for most of us. If we're going to choose anything, it's supposed to be love. Period. The pure, unadulterated love of God for one another.
That's what this whole thing is supposed to be.
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