Jesus puts a high emphasis on loving God and loving our neighbors. But sometimes, a person we’re trying to show the love of Christ to has an opinion that we completely disagree with. Maybe they’re even part of an entirely different religion. Are they still our neighbor?
In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus made it clear that everyone is our neighbor, not just people we share a lot of opinions with. It can be easy for us to get along with people who think like we do and agree with us on life’s big topics. But when Jesus taught the parable of the Good Samaritan, He showed that God calls us to love everyone—even people we deeply disagree with. The Samaritans and the Jews hated each other, and they disagreed about where and how to worship God. So when Jesus told the parable of a Samaritan taking care of an injured Jew, it would have been shocking to His audience. That kind of love was radical.
Jesus Himself demonstrated this radical love by asking tax collectors—who were considered traitors—to follow Him. He often visited and healed people who would have been on the outskirts of society, such as lepers, women, prostitutes, and people with disabilities. And, in His greatest act of radical love, Jesus died for us and rose again, defeating death and sin so we can live with Him forever when He returns.
As we wait for that glorious day, sometimes extending radical love means not engaging in an argument that would only make both people upset. Sometimes showing love to our neighbors means not jumping up to correct them, or not endlessly debating an issue that you don’t see eye-to-eye on. It’s not our job to convince people to share all of our views. God is the One who works change in people’s hearts. And because His Holy Spirit lives in us, empowering and equipping us, we can show everyone Christ’s transforming love. • Naomi Zylstra
• Have you gotten into an argument or debate recently? Did anyone change their minds? What happened after the argument?
• Who is someone in your life who has a different view on something that’s important to you? What are some ways you might be able to show love to this person?
• What might it look like to talk with someone lovingly about a topic you disagree on?
Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 2 Timothy 2:23-24 (NIV)