The Day I Learnt To Love The People I Didn’t Like

pay-it-forward-2014-random-act-of-kindness

When was the last time you offered up your seat for an old lady? Or the last time you gave someone your last sweet? Or the last time you gave the homeless man, on the way to work, the change you’d been saving to purchase a sugary snack on your lunch break?

Disclaimer: I have no recollection of the last time I did any of the above either so this post isn’t about praising the awesome week I’ve had putting others before myself.

I would like you to think about it though. I’m not asking when was the last time you put yourself on par with someone else, but when was the last time you put someone before yourself . How many of us sit on buses or tubes in the reserved for people who actually need it best seats and have kept our eyes fixed firmly on the ground as we avoided all possible eye contact with someone more deserving of the seat. You’ve all experienced that awkward moment when you sit across from someone who is also in a reserved seat and wait to see who is going to inconvenience themselves perform an act of kindness for the pregnant lady/ man with a walking stick that has just boarded the train. Secondly, have you ever considered how funny it is that telling someone that the sweet they have just requested is in fact the last sweet in the bag is a valid reason for not sharing. The other person completely understands your unwillingness to share because they too wouldn’t deprive themselves of the taste of that last something sweet whilst watching you enjoy it. And, finally, the excuses we mull over as we walk past homeless people are really something.

‘They’re just going to use it for drugs anyway’

‘It’s my treat day, if I give away 60p I’d have to break into my fiver to buy a chocolate bar’

‘It’s my money, I earned it, they don’t deserve it.

Before you continue I’d just like to point out that there is no judgement passing from my fingertips to your retinas. I realised this week that I had my whole ethos of loving people: wrong.

It generally goes

  1. I love you God.
  2. I love myself and want to make sure everything is ok in my life.
  3. I love others and want to make sure they’re content.

Because of this our prayers follow suit. We thank God because he’s amazing, we spend hours laying out our prayer point list before God, and then before we close we remember all of our loved ones and say a quick prayer for them.

The second is this: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:31

A couple of week s ago I spoke about the greatest commandment on Earth, loving God with all your heart,  but have we completely ignored the second greatest? We have a command from God and I think we’ve been reading it wrong

  1. Love others after as you love yourself.

We are so driven by  wanting to make sure our lives are shaping up the way we’d like them to that we don’t cast our net to the people around us. What can we do for them that would make their day just that little bit better? What can we say to encourage them in their walks with Christ or their relationship with their mum or the job that they feel like they’re failing at? Most of us would read the above and respond with: ‘ it’s simply not our problem’ but that’s where we’re wrong. We= me and you, are family. The saying goes you can choose your friends but you can’t choose your family and that applies here. You may not like your leaders in church, you may feel that the lady in the fourth pew is gossiping about you, you might not even agree with some of the doctrine that fellow followers of Christ proclaim, but whether you like it or not you’ve got to love them anyway.

I can here you now. You don’t believe me. Charity begins at home and how can you bless people if you’re still waiting for your blessing? But what if your blessing never comes? Practising love is one of those, whether you’re Methodist, Baptist, Pentecostal, catholic, as a Christian you can’t run away from, so where does that leave us?

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:13

Jesus gave us the BEST example of showing love to one another and we don’t seriously pay it much thought when thinking about where going the extra mile for someone should stop. Are you willing to die for me? Probably not, and we could all say, ‘we aren’t Jesus’ , ‘death is a pretty big deal’, and that may be the truth, but we can’t de-scale Jesus’ example  all the way to not even being able to share our last crisp with our fellows. We are so me me me minded that we forget that everything Jesus did was for us. His actions were for the benefit of you and me. I’m not asking you to be selfless, I just think that we could think about ourselves less. Christianity is about the other. Your relationship with God aside, how are you showing love to those around you?

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. Philippians 2:3-4

I decided to change my attitude this week. We could look at old ladies stepping onto packed buses or the pang of guilt we feel in our hearts caused by people begging for change on our paths to work, as an inconvenience, or we could decide that it’s a great opportunity to provide convenience for someone else. What can we do, if we don’t have the finances to bless the homeless man or the physical strength to rise for the old lady? (No, being tired from standing on your feet all day after a long retail shift doesn’t count.) How about changing your prayer…

God help me them

God provide for me them

God bless use me

I’m not asking you to wash people’s feet, but could you? Would you be willing to lower yourself in order for someone else to feel loved? God doesn’t do one thing for us and we’ve concluded that he doesn’t love us but when did we last do something for someone else. People have the worst things to say about Christians. It usually goes ‘hypocrite this’ hypocrite that’ but condemnation aside can we see the truth. Are we loving others when it suits us or because Jesus set a high standard and we’re following suit? You might not have a relationship with the people around you and you may not even like them, but you can love them.

Let’s change our ethos.

Once we love God it must go God, others: ourselves. God loves people whether we think they deserve it or not and we serve God by loving others.

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” Galatians 5:13-14

Big love xxxxxx

Dani

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