You were called to love everyone. You were not called to be close to everyone. These were words that a youth leader said this morning to a group of middle schoolers.
I wish someone would have said it that simple to me a lot earlier in life.
“This is the message you have heard from the beginning: We should love one another”
1 John 3:11 NLT
When’s the last time you looked at a person you knew, a person you care for, a person you disagree with, a person who’s lifestyle is different, a person with opposing political views and said in your head, “I love you.” Like a true Jesus kind of love? I heard that over the weekend from a woman speaking at the IF:Gathering, Angie Smith.
You guys, I’m still reconciling these thoughts in my own head and in my own heart and I have to be honest – I get this wrong a ton. I get it almost right sometimes, and rarely am I spot on. It is so hard!
To feel the pressure to be “close” to everyone, to follow everyone on social media, to pursue coffee date after coffee date trying to grow the sphere of those you interact with. Like that’s a real tension for me! Only as I’ve aged the last couple of years have I attempted to cut myself a break to say, self, you don’t have to try to be friends with everyone, and you certainly don’t have to let it keep you up at night. You only have so much time in the day and you have to nurture the immediate relationships God has called you to.
Jesus has called me to LOVE everyone that is true. And that is challenging enough, but dang, he hasn’t called me to be close with everyone.
And if I’m being honest, I’m still trying to figure out how to love everyone and what that means. It’s so hard for me to seperate people from the choices I see them make sometimes. But guess what?! I make choices all the time, and I’d be foolish to think that they are always right, or that everyone always agrees with them! I mean I am very strong in belief (shout out to Strengthsfinder) but that isn’t always a good thing, or an appealing quality to others.
So here I am – still working towards saying I love you in my head to every person. Knowing that they were created by God and regardless I am still a sinner, and so are they, and we will remain that on this side of heaven. I can’t change them, or me, but Jesus’ love can – and if I’m not living and showing that, they may miss out on it. And that is something that should keep me up at night.
Friends – here’s to loving everyone, or trying our darndest.