Raif: How do we love someone we hate?

Love your enemies

There seems to be so much hate in our society now. Even Christians, who are supposed to show God’s love, shout at those with whom they disagree if those people aren’t acting or believing the way we think they should; i.e. the way we interpret the Bible to judge their behavior.

Many, if not most, of these Christians try to get laws passed to make behavior we think is not right a felony.

Phil Latham addressed this in his column (Take Two, Wednesday), writing about abortion.

It’s amazing how two people who claim to be Christians can totally disagree with each other on the behavior and beliefs of others.

A visiting priest at our church two weeks ago put a new light on loving. She used the verses in John 13 where Jesus is eating with his disciples before he was betrayed and ultimately crucified. As He was washing their feet, He said, “I give you a NEW commandment to love each other just as I have loved you. Verse 35 says, “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”

What if the symbol of Jesus’ love is not the cross, but rather a wash basin and towel for washing feet? We can shout at others, we can try to get laws passed that attempt to MAKE people behave or believe the way we think they should; i.e., the way the Bible says. I dare say none of us is going to be crucified to show someone our love for them. But we can wash feet, can’t we? We can be one human being showing another the unstoppable, all-inclusive, grace-filled, soul-transforming love of Christ for the world.

What does washing feet really symbolize? That we really care about the other person? That we are willing to help them find a better way to live their life? That we are willing to help them carry their own burden ... or even carry it for them when they aren’t able?

Phil was writing about abortion. Are those who are so adamant that abortion is wrong willing to help the mother bring up her child, to help heal the emotional wounds if the woman was raped, whether by a person in her own family or by a stranger?

If a person steals to get money to buy food, are you willing to help them put food on the table? Even if a person steals to buy drugs, are you willing to find out why he wants the drugs, or why he or she bought them the first time? Maybe they are trying to forget a horrible life. Sure, some are doing it for pleasure, thinking they won’t get hooked. But until a person has a concrete way to a better life, they will always try to find it wherever they can.

I am weary of reading the news in the paper or on the internet, or watching it on TV. It seems we’re being bombarded with hate, unkindness, horrible behavior, shouting epithets and cursing. So what are we to do? Crawl into our shell and try to shut it all out? How is that showing love to anyone?

I will confess that sometimes we — I — do that to save my sanity. My husband and I have helped many times, but right now we’re taking a break because bouts of pain prohibit us from reaching out to help as we have done in the past. But for some reason I still have this feeling I can’t shake that God still has something for me to do. I have no idea what or when. Perhaps He’s giving me a rest until I’m ready again.

I keep thinking about a dream I had several years ago. I was swimming upstream in a fast-flowing stream. On either side of me there were eels, but none of them was able to reach me. The interpretation was that Satan was trying to divert me from following God’s plan, but God was protecting me. Do you not think God will protect you if you are showing God’s true love to others?

Do you not think God will provide you with whatever you need to show His love for others?

Ask and you will receive.

— Gayle Raif, a Longview resident, is a regular contributor to the Saturday Forum.

Today's Bible verse

“Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.”

— Psalm 42:11

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