Rockin’ those rose-colored glasses
In my last post I referenced the call on a Christian’s life to love others, even our enemies. I thought today I would break down what I understand that to mean…what that looks like.
First, what it doesn’t mean. Loving someone who hates, disagrees with, or disregards me does not mean I feel all warm and fuzzy when I am with them or think of them. I don’t long to share intimate thoughts with them, enjoy long walks hand in hand, or grow old together. Loving them doesn’t even mean I have to like them.
Real love, the kind of love we are to have for our neighbor, is not a feeling but an attitude and an action. And it’s summed up pretty well (yes, Jesus, I give you props for this ;-)) in the Golden Rule, Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. If I would like others to give me a break for my humanness and treat me with respect and consideration, I must also do the same.
I have found it not too difficult to treat everyone with respect and consideration when I am with them, but that may be more the markings of good training by my parents than an intentional attitude of love. What I struggle with is having a consistently loving attitude toward others even when I am not with them, and especially toward people I’ve never met.
But I know what it looks like, because I know Jesus. I know that when I read about gay activists unfairly targeting a Christian for his beliefs I should not get angry, first of all. Yes, there’s a place for righteous anger but it shouldn’t be directed at individuals. Instead, I should look at these real people through the eyes of Jesus, which is only possible because of His indwelling Spirit. Just as He looked with love on the Roman soldiers who crucified Him saying, “Father, forgive them. They know not what they do”, I should do the same.
Looking through “rose-colored glasses” has definite negative connotations, but I would like to put a positive spin on the expression. Because, “Roses are red, violets (though totally unnecessary to my illustration here) are blue. The heart, which is traditionally seen as the locus of love, is red. And so love is too.” All of that slightly silly poetic revisionism to say that loving others means looking at them through the filter of love. So when I read a contentious quote from a faceless gay rights supporter, I must intentionally (and figuratively) put on my rose-colored glasses by asking myself, how would Jesus see this person? If this person was my child, how would I view their comments…and them?
Knowing what Jesus would do is pretty easy to discern, simply from the Gospel records. He would have compassion on them, knowing they are created and known by God, with unique histories that probably include trials, injustices, failures as well as triumphs, fears, unmet needs and desires, and actions motivated by some sense of morality, all wrapped up in a fragile soul that just wants to be loved. This pretty much describes me, by the way.
So, as a Christ follower, I go where He leads. I reject the temptation to criticize and categorize as ignorant or misguided and allow Him to remind me that He loves them and so should I. And that I am not perfect and don’t know everything. I don’t hesitate, if given the opportunity, to respectfully disagree, but my motivation should always be to honor God and be used by Him to be a light in a dark world so that others will come to know Him. Not to win an argument or be proven right.
*Sigh* Sometimes I get a little bummed about not being allowed to criticize because it feels good to think myself better than others. Isn’t this perceived need to pump ourselves up a primary reason why we find it difficult to love? But then my Father reminds me how much it pleases Him when I humble myself and reject criticism and choose compassion and love instead. And I know that the more I please my Father who loves me, the more pleasure it will bring me as well.
So I’ve come up with a new little poem for when I’m confronted with individuals or groups whose political, societal, or religious views seem to butt heads with mine: Don’t mock the misguided masses. You rock those rose-colored glasses. Girl. 🙂