The Problem with People
You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Matthew 22:39
We recently attended a social gathering, which we left early for reasons that I felt were justified. According to social norms, we perhaps should have stayed longer. Later, a brother asked me how it went, and I relayed that we weren’t there very long. He knows me quite well and observed that for better and worse, I’m not often compelled by peer pressure. This is good if that pressure is to have a drink. It’s often destructive though, when I simply do whatever I want, not caring if anyone else gets hurt. This is a life problem for me, doing whatever Scott wants, without considering anyone else. Basically, I’m selfish.
As it turns out, I’m not alone. Self-centeredness is probably one of the – if not the – worst traits of humanities flawed nature. We put our own interests above all, treating our will as god. We pursue self-destructive appetites, causing tremendous misery for our loved ones and ourselves. Most of the world’s ills are caused because we live how we want, without considering God or anyone else. The problem with people is that we’re terminally self-centered.
Jesus taught that the greatest commandment was to love God above all, but in today’s passage, he said the second greatest commandment was to love our neighbors as ourselves. Christ’s followers then, should be the most selfless people in the world. Christians though, can be just as bad as everyone else. Often, we’re worse, using what we call sin in other’s lives to justify hateful words and actions towards them.
The interesting thing about Jesus command to love though, is that he didn’t specify any prerequisites. He didn’t say we should only love those who agree with our faith. He didn’t say we should be kind only to those who are white, heterosexual, upper-class, sober, and go to our church. Jesus said we must love those around us, being as kind to them as we would be to ourselves. This doesn’t mean we must agree on everything, and this doesn’t mean we abandon truth. It just means that we must love those around us. It’s possible that our neighbors aren’t interested in our kindness. We’re not responsible for that. We’re only responsible to obey Christ, doing our part to maintain a loving relationship with our neighbors.