Jesus gave us a wonderful example of love in the story of the Good Samaritan. You remember the story. It was prompted by a question from a young lawyer, a student of the Law. He knew there was something lacking in his heart. The love God part was relatively easy in his Jewish mind. All he had to do was keep the commandments and fulfill the rituals. It was the love your neighbor part that troubled him. Loving your neighbor can be hard. This young lawyer wanted to know the boundaries. Just who was he expected to love? And, whom could he ignore or reject?
Jesus told the story. A certain man fell among thieves. In other words he was mugged. As he lay hurting, people walked by him. They ignored his needs, even though he was one of their own people. He might have paid them. He might have rewarded their kindness. But they walked by because they were afraid of the cost to themselves.
Finally the Samaritan man notices the need and comes to help. Now, we have to understand that the Jews hated the Samaritans. It was very likely that this hurting man would turn against the Samaritan as soon as he was well. He might reject the kindness. He might push the Good Samaritan away. When he got better, this Jewish man might be cruel toward the Samaritan.
None of that mattered. The man was hurting and needed help. Love demanded kindness and caring. The Samaritan was good because he followed the command to love his neighbor.
We are commanded to love. It doesn’t matter whether the person is lovable or not, we must love them. How do we do such a thing? Only by the grace of the Lord.
What’s the big deal with us loving each other? We like each other already. We are friends. What’s the big deal with being loving toward your family? That’s supposed to be easy because they love you in return. The hard ones are those who don’t love you back. The hard ones are those into whom you can pour all kinds of love and get nothing in return. That’s when love is something special, according to Jesus.
And that’s when love is impossible. There is nothing in you that wants to love someone like that… at least nothing in your flesh. Your feelings are natural. When you want to stay away, when you want to avoid that person, when you just wish you didn’t have to deal with the problem, that’s normal human emotion. The flesh doesn’t love anyone who doesn’t pay back.
So if those feelings are normal and we are still commanded to love that person, what’s the secret? Well, we have to reach out to the one person who is not normal. Jesus is without sin. No stain of the flesh is on Him. He loves perfectly. He can love that person through you.
You see, love is an active verb. It is something we do. Love is not a feeling we have toward someone. That’s the world’s kind of love, isn’t it? I love you because you make me feel good. I feel good when I am with you so I must love you. That’s the world’s kind of love.
The love of the Lord Jesus Christ for us is the love that reaches out to enemies, to the unlovable. Only His love in us and through us can move us to do love toward others, especially those who are hard to love.