So the other day I was really upset. I have this dear friend that identifies with a different religion than I do.
This wasn’t why I was upset.
In an effort to find some common ground, I started researching her religion. I believe there’s Truth in more places than just my church. Absolutely. So it didn’t bother me when I ended up finding some common ground in my research. And actually, I found a whole lot of common ground.
It made me more comfortable with admiring her and calling her my friend. (I think that’s called conditional love.)
SO, imagine the inner turmoil when I discovered it was mostly false information that I had stumbled across online explaining her religion to me. Or maybe not so much “false information” as masked information. As it turns out, our beliefs are really quite different from one another’s. I would call some of her faith’s views a little wacky… A bit skewed. Definitely foreign to me. But then again, I wasn’t raised in her church or region that she calls her home. She probably thinks I’m a little wacky too. She also probably has a much more grace-filled way of saying that.
Anyway, this new truth about her religion really shook me for a while. Her Truths ended up not exactly lining up with mine. Tragic.
We hear the phrase “love others who are different from you” all the time. In sermons, in children’s bible classes, and everywhere in between. You know, I’m not quite sure we really get what that means. I certainly didn’t get it.
I was burdened by “loving others who are different from me”. I was burdened by the fact that I still loved my friend, yet we are so different. I felt like I needed to either go over to her side, or have her come over to mine in order to really love her.
And when I realized I felt this way, I realized I was doing it ALL WRONG.
Friends, we aren’t supposed to be BURDENED by loving others. Choosing to love others who are different from us is supposed to be -and truly is- the most freeing thing in the world.
It’s not my job to fix her, it’s my job to love her.
Did you hear that? We aren’t called to fix. We’re called to love.
Honestly, I’m a little bit proud of myself for initially finding a bit of Truth in her religion(‘s website). I still see Truth in her religion. No doubt about it. This friend and I could talk about God’s love all day long together and not have one conflicting view. So in my heart I’m saying “where’s the problem, people?!” We both love God. And I think it’s the same God. Yes, I know it seems like I’m oversimplifying. I know this is probably offensive to some. But I’m choosing to focus on Love, instead of our differences in religion.
I love my religion, you probably do too, but when our religion becomes an idol… that’s when it becomes dangerous. That’s not at all what God intended religion to be. Good things can become idols too. Do you know what I love more than my religion? God. And God is Love. And Love is not burdensome. Love celebrates. Love delights in you and me. Love is God.
If we’re burdened by “loving others who are different from ourselves,” I think we must be doing something terribly wrong. “Loving others who are different from ourselves” is truly one of the most freeing things I’ve come to know.
My desire is to see God’s Truth in different places than where I’m used to finding it. God is so much bigger than we give Him credit for.
My desire is to bend a knee to God wherever, and in whomever, He reigns. In my brothers and sisters of different religions, and the ones that go to my church. In my gay brothers and sisters, and in my bible-beating, protesting brothers and sisters that seem to do more harm than good. To the girl walking into the abortion clinic, and to the people standing outside shouting at her, throwing her worth around like a penny, not the treasure chests of gold that it really is. To the local preacher I love because he delights in loving, and the mega-church preacher I cannot stand because he delights in demeaning. May my heart be softened to them all. May I bend my knee to THE God in all of them.
These people all have their own truths. And, if I look hard enough, I bet you they all have a little bit of Truth in them too. Maybe even more than a little bit. Maybe a lot a bit. There are so many self-identifying Christians I know of that I just cannot see God in. My prayer is that I look a little harder. They are most certainly all worthy of Love. It’s not right to judge in which of them I’m going to celebrate the God I see, and which one of them I’m going to turn my back to because of our personal differences. If I can see Him in all of them, I should call that forward in all of them by bending my knee to the Father as He uses them as His holy temple- His dwelling place. We’re all imperfect, yet he makes us all holy.
I pray my love is not poisoned by the mere things of this world, but remains true and strengthened because there is Truth wherever there is God, and there is God wherever there is Truth.