How's That Faith Stuff?
Matthew 5:43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you… If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?”
A few weeks back Elaine and I had dinner with a couple friends. The girlfriend had been a believer for a long time but recently found new intimacy in her relationship with God. The boyfriend was not a believer, but came to form a recent interest about God, (largely stemming from an interest in this new girlfriend.) He knew that faith was important to her, and that if he wanted to settle down, he would have to shift so they could start from the same foundation.
After sharing some stories and catching up, Elaine asked the boyfriend “so how’s that faith stuff coming?” He relayed that he was open learning more, but that he had a few concerns. I think the one that really stuck out for me was this idea that if he became a Christian he’d feel separate from his friends and family who were not believers.
I replied that while everyone’s experience is different, I’ve found that as I get closer to God I actually feel more connected to people from all faiths and all backgrounds. The natural human state is to treat people well when they’re like you. If someone shares your DNA, then you love them. If you went to the same school, or share the same ethnicity, you’re more likely to want to help them. If you believe the same thing, then you’re more likely to trust them.
But scripture calls us to honor those who do not share our DNA, our school, our hometown or our belief system. You’re not just to love your friends and family. The call is to love your enemies. That is an impossible standard, and one I’ve only recently begun to imagine possible. “So all the more if you get close to God, I think you’ll be a better friend despite any differences.”
We discussed a few other concerns, (maybe I can share in subsequent posts), but later that night our friends went for a walk and the boyfriend said the sinner’s prayer.
Dear God, thanks for being such a caring father and for giving us the perfect example of true love. Thank you for pursuing us, and giving us relationship with you. I can’t wait to see the fruits of what you have in store for this beautiful couple. In Jesus’ name, Amen.