I’m forgetful. I often begin to worry about the state of my mind because of how many times that I’ll walk into a room and forget why I went in there or have no idea where I have left my car keys. Names will always be a downfall for me. I’d be embarrassed to tell you how many times that someone has told me their name, only for me to forget it mere moments later. I am only 30, but I seem to have the memory of someone three times my age. I’m not very good with dates either, so I have had to rely on putting the significant ones on a calendar to remember such things. With that in mind, one of the things that I find essential to do in my life is to put up different Bible verses in my home and office because those are far more important to remember. I am confident that I will never forget my faith and God’s love for me, but it is nice to have those reminders.
I have placed Ephesians 4:1 above the doorway going out of my office. That verse reads, “Walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called.” The reason that I have that piece of scripture above the doorway is for a daily reminder of how I am supposed to live my life. When I think about what I have been called to do, I tend to focus on what I believe is my specific calling. I don’t believe that verse is actually speaking to the specific calling on any one of our lives but the general calling that has been placed upon all Christians by Christ. If you think back to when Jesus was calling his disciples, he called them to do one thing, “follow me.” That is the calling to which we have been called.
What does it mean to follow Jesus? It is both simple and complicated. We are to walk in his footsteps and do as he did. That consists of one thing, love. Think through all of Jesus’ life. Think about all of the people that he encountered. All that he ever did was love people. It might have looked differently for each recipient, but Christ never wavered in how he would relate to everyone. We are to do the same.
This is not new news. If you have any knowledge of the Gospels or read this blog regularly, then you know that we are to love everyone. Here is what the Savior said in John 15:12, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” What we are to do is pretty straight forward. However, we all know that loving others gets tricky. We are pretty good at loving those who are in our circle such as friends, family, and coworkers. We are even pretty good at loving those who we deem “less fortunate.” Admittedly, I think that has a lot to with making ourselves feel better. The rubber really hits the road when it comes to those with whom we have disagreements. What about those people who tell you that your core beliefs are wrong or openly live their lives in a way that is offensive to how you believe God has designed for us to live? Are we loving those people well?
We are so quick to want to shut down those with whom we are vehemently opposed. We are so ready to dismiss and condemn others when they go against our morality. This is when I have to be reminded of John 3:17. That is not a typo; I did not mean John 3:16. The line that follows the most famous Bible verse is equal in its importance. “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” If Jesus didn’t come to this world to condemn others, then why do we think that it is our place to do so? Why are we so willing to put others down when that is not how the one in which we are following lived his life?
Think back to some of the encounters that Jesus had while he was walking the earth. Recall the woman caught in adultery from John 8. She stood before him guilty and deserving of death. Jesus saved her and set her free. There was also the woman at the well from John 4, who had been married 5 times and was living with a man that was not her husband. Jesus loved her and invited her into an eternal relationship with him. Consider Zacchaeus, the tax collector from Luke 19, who would have been reviled and hated by his own people. Jesus offered him friendship and stayed at his house. In Matthew 9, there is a woman who had a disease that caused her to bleed for over a decade. She sneakily touched Christ’s cloak and thus made him “unclean.” This means that he would no longer have been able to worship his father at the Temple until he went through the proper cleansing rituals. Did he chastise or rebuke the woman? No, he commended her for her faith. I could go on and on and on, as I often do. I think you get the point though. It doesn’t matter who it is, what they’ve done, or what they stand for, we are to love everyone.
Imagine the impact that it would make if every Christian unconditionally loved others. The world would be a very different place. Just because you love someone doesn’t mean that you support or condone their lifestyle or choices. Jesus clearly doesn’t support adultery, but that didn’t stop him from extending his compassion to that woman. We do not get to be the arbiter on who deserves to be loved. That is up to God, and he has definitively said that it is to be offered for all. My thought is that we should love everyone and let God figure out the rest. He is much more qualified than us.
If we want to “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which we have been called,” then we need love ALL of those who we encounter in our lives. If we do that, then we will be following Jesus so closely that we may even step on his heels.