I often wonder how God can love people and judge them at the same time. Intellectually, I understand that God must be able to do this, because, you know, God is God. He must be able to separate the good from the bad and yet still see that one person as they are and love them. God does not choose the potential of humans; he chooses humans as they are – messy and broken- and reaches in to save them from themselves. He is able to see every single drop of humanity and love it, even when that humanity falls short.
Easier Not to Love
I am not God – thank goodness – but that means that I don’t have the capacity to see someone that I disagree with and to still love them completely. I’m able to love them conditionally and to put ultimatums on my relationships with them. I’m able to say, “I still love you, but…” and turn away from the hard work of giving love in the way that it can be accepted. It’s easy to withdraw my support of actions I don’t agree with or believe, but, in doing so, I withdraw my acceptance from the people I’m trying to love.
In many ways, it is easier not to love. It is easier to say that all people I disagree with are unlovable; they are monsters, unworthy of my time and attention. To avoid my own cognitive dissonance, I pull away. I tuck into myself, cocooning away from the world, hoping that someone easier to love will come along. But does pulling away from the hard work of love bring the kind of transformation that I want to see in myself?
What does Love look like?
We know it when we see it, but sometimes it escapes us in the practical. I see love when a mother hugs her child who struggles with gender identity and knowing where they belong in the world; I see love when a father reads the same book 337 times to their toddler. I see love when elected officials listen to the concerns of their communities and try to address them. I see love when apologies are given and behavior is changed. I see love when I can look past my own discomfort and ask myself, “how does this person want to be loved?”. I see love when we are able to build up others, even when there is a cost.
Being created by God does not depend on belief in it; every person is made in the image and likeness of God. By segmenting people into lovable and unlovable parts, I am taking away my ability to love the whole person with the respect that someone made in God’s image deserves. I can give love, but if it’s not in a way that the other person can accept it, they will never feel love.
Is the point of love to make me feel good about myself? For me to be able to say, “Oh, my love will change this person that I think needs to change. I feel so great!” Or is the point of love to let others know that they are worth being loved for nothing other than being themselves? To point others (and ourselves) to the truth that there is a God that loves us for who we are?
God is able to do all these things, but I am not God. I do not know how to love the way that God loves people without His help. But I do know that Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Mark 22:37-3).
What does love look like?
Rebecca constantly strives to practically love people around her. She also loves fuzzy socks, her five sisters, pink and orange alstroemerias, calligraphy, and sour gummy worms.