"In speaking of love at this point, we are not referring to some sentimental or affectionate emotion. It would be nonsense to urge men (women) to love their oppressors in an affectionate sense. Love in this connection means understanding, redemptive good will. When we speak of loving those who oppose us, we refer to neither eros nor philia; we speak of love which is expressed in the Greek word agape. Agape means understanding, redeeming good will for all men (women). It is an overflowing love which is purely spontaneous, unmotivated, groundless, and creative. it is not set in motion by any quality or function of its object. It is the love of God operating in the human heart."
-Martin Luther King Jr.
"But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you...If you love those who love you, what credit it that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you what credit is that you you? For even sinner do the same."
-The Gospel of Luke the sixth Chapter
How we misunderstand Jesus on his teaching about love. It is simply too radical and too hard for us to comprehend. We like rules, order, and justice. What we struggle with is love. Not a love that is about how we feel, but a love that seeks the most possible good for everyone even our enemies. In my more honest hours I admit that I have enemies. I have people whose ideology, theology, and lifestyle I can not stand. In fact, they believe things that I would spend the rest of my life fighting against. How am I to love such people? How am I suppose to get along?
Have you ever been with someone you just met, and they say something to you that is so offensive you want to scream at them right then and there. This happened to me at a wedding I was at. I was the pastor and someone decided it would be real fun to tell me this racist joke. I was so upset, so appalled I wanted to hit the person in the face. But I didn't I calmed myself and simply did not laugh. The person instantly knew they had done something wrong and tried to apologies. "I am not racist" he told me. It is time like this I wish I had the perfect words to put everything in proper perspective. But I did not. We went on to have a very good conversation about other things in life. We talked about family, friends, and the importance of faith. This did not make the man's comments acceptable, it simply meant that there is something more that connects us as human beings then our prejudices, our differences, or our ideals.
What connects us is our sin, and our need for Christ. What connects us is love that pours out from Jesus Christ. I hope that in all things we might be able to continue to love one another. Not in any mushy way, but in a real and difficult way. Love is when we want the best for our neighbors and seek it out in our lives. Agape searches out those who are different then me and offers them forgiveness and grace. I rely on the promise of God to deal with my sin with love. I hope that I am faithful enough to deal with other people's sin in the same way.