For those of you who are unaware, and I was among you until recently, a ‘meme’ is a picture with words printed over it to convey a short, usually funny, scenario. Google defines a meme this way: a humorous image, video, piece of text, etc. that is copied (often with slight variations) and spread rapidly by Internet users. Many of these are quite funny and more often they are off-color, or not for a mixed audience. I saw one the other day that struck me on a different level. There are many memes featuring Jesus depicted in various ways. Many are rather offensive, but I have to be honest many of them make me genuinely laugh. This one in particular was one that I initially wanted to just gloss over, but I thought about what it said.
Becoming a parent almost four years ago has taught me a great deal about love. I never understood the love of God towards humanity fully until I had kids. What you realize as a parent is that your heart and your capacity to love expands and morphs into this incredible thing. Regardless of what my kids do, I never stop loving them. Nothing they do makes me love them more or less and I never understood how this was possible. The same goes for God. Nothing we do can earn God’s favor. He loves his children. Now, do I agree with every choice my children make? Will I ever disapprove of them? But will I ever stop loving them and wanting the absolute best for them? No, I do not agree with every choice, yes I will and do disapprove of things they do, and no I will never stop loving them and wanting the absolute best for them.
Loving someone does not mean you agree with or condone everything they do. This is a big misconception. You can love without aligning. Jesus tells us that the world will know you are a follower of him by how you love people. (John 13:35) Unfortunately, this is not the way that most people would describe Christians. The meme that made me stop and think is this one:
I think a lot of Christians put a lot of conditions on their love for others. Maybe they are afraid that if they ‘love’ someone that it means they are in line with every philosophy and failing, every statement and stance. If this was what Jesus meant, than I can tell you that he would not ‘love’ me. I am a flawed person, cursed to live in this imperfect body until I get my new one. (2 Cor. 5:1-5) Thankfully, God loves us, his children, regardless of what we do. God does NOT agree or align with everything we do, but he still sent his Son to die for us. If that is not love, I don’t know what is.
When Jesus told us to love others, do we just question? Did he stutter? There is a Tim Keller fan twitter account and it usually tweets Tim quotes. This was one from the other day: “In American society most people only know of either a mild & nominal or a separatist & legalistic Christianity. Neither is the real thing.” Ouch. I want to be known as a follower of Christ by my love for others. Jesus said that the two greatest commands are love God and love your neighbor. It all comes back to love. But just because you love someone does not mean that you have to agree with them on everything. Jesus put no conditions on who he would love, but he did tell us to ‘go and sin no more.’ (John 8:11)
Maybe you are struggling with accepting the love of your heavenly Father. Maybe you have a bad relationship with your real father. Let the love that sent Jesus to the cross touch you today. Whether you know it or not, God loves you. Think about that today.