Something that’s been brought back to the forefront of my mind in the past week is that words have different connotations associated with them regardless of whether we realize it or not. Part of what reminded me of this is the fact that I’m at linguistics boot camp for the summer, and that falls underneath the category of semantics and pragmatics, what words mean according to their definitions and what words mean according to how people use them. The other part of what reminded me of this has been reexamining what I want to be known for and what living like Jesus and being a Christian really mean, partially influenced by my reading of Love Does by Bob Goff, which everyone should read at some point in their lifetime. But back to the main point. Since starting this blog earlier this year, I’ve been called a lot of things, some good and some seemingly bad. I won’t mention too many of the good things, just because I don’t want this to be about me, but what does seemingly bad mean? Well, they’re things that I’m sure people intended to be negative comments to express their disapproval, but that I take in stride and embrace. For example, a good amount of people have called me ‘radical’ or ‘too liberal,’ apparently as insults or something like that. And those things hurt at first, because the words ‘radical’ and ‘liberal’ tend to have negative pragmatic connotations in Christian circles, but in recent weeks, I’ve come to embrace those things, because Christians are supposed to radical and Christians are supposed to be liberal, specifically in our love.
And radical love means doing things that don’t make sense from logical or political standpoints. Radical love means praying for members of ISIS to be saved, rather than advocating for the United States to send in military forces to destroy the “evil Muslims,” because their lives are just as sacred as the lives of unborn children. Radical love means not sentencing people to the death penalty for the same reason.
Radical love means actually following through on the statement ‘come as you are’ that so many churches like to use. It means accepting that people won to Christ don’t change overnight. It’s a process, meaning that your friends who just came to Christ aren’t going to stop swearing overnight. It also means being able to love people who don’t share the same viewpoints as you, and actually loving them, not just tolerating their existence.
Radical love means doing things that don’t make sense, because you care about people for who they are, not what their political or personal beliefs are. It means loving people as they are, not treating them like projects to fix up “for the Kingdom.” Radical love means loving people where they are, regardless of where they’ll end up and regardless of whether or what you’re going to get out of it. That’s what radical love is and so much more, too.
Now, I’m not an expert at doing any of these things, because these things are hard and I’m still working on them too. You’ve probably heard it a million times, but I’ll say it again, because it’s important and it’s true: love isn’t just a warm fuzzy feeling that you get inside. Love is messy. Love is uncomfortable. Love is hard. Love is work.
So to everyone that’s going to call me radical and liberal, thank you. It means that I’m doing my job properly. It means that I’m loving like it doesn’t make sense, and it means that I’m beginning to scratch the surface of what it means to live like Jesus did. After all, the religious people thought that He was crazy and that what He was doing didn’t make any sense either.
Paraphrasing from Bob Goff, a lot of people, Christians included, think that religious people are like the security guards who are in charge of deciding who gets in and who doesn’t, but that’s not true. We’re just the ushers, showing people the way they’re supposed to go. God is ultimately the One who decides who gets in, not us. Our only job is to love, because that love is the uniform of Christians proving Who we work for.
So I’ll take it. I’ll definitely take it. In the words of Peter and Paul, if all you can do is call me the same things they called Jesus, I guess I can’t be doing too badly.
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