In Matthew chapter 5, Jesus commands us Christians to love our enemies. Now, this is a very well known and often recited and taught upon passage.
However, one part that is often missed is when Jesus continued from there to say:
…and if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so?
What does this mean?
Well, “greeting your brethren only” means to be kind only to those who are just like us. So, what Jesus is suggesting is that we have an obligation not only to love our enemies, but to love those who are different than us.
Unlike our enemies, those who are simply different than us have never purposefully done or willed harm against us.
One example, for many of us, are those who identify themselves amongst the LGBT community. Likewise, those who may not be like us economically, educationally or racially may also fall into the category of “those who are not our brethren only.”
What Jesus is politely saying is: Love those who are not like you, whomever that might be.
They may be of a different religious tradition or people with different sensibilities… or even atheists!
They’re not like us.
So, how are we supposed to treat them?
How does God treat them?
He treats them as though they are His friends.
Like Jesus, we should love, embrace and accept people who are different than us. Whatever that difference is – we ought to love, embrace, accept and befriend people who are not the same as us.
Now, let me be perfectly clear: we can love others without our love meaning that we agree with everything they believe or do.
That’s an altogether separate issue.
Jesus befriended all kinds of people including tax collectors and even wicked sinners, without agreeing with everything these people believed in or did, or every lifestyle choice that they made.
Like Jesus, we can love those “who are not our brethren” without becoming a “compromiser” or “soft on sin”.
In this same way, Jesus does not agree with everything I have ever done or believed. And yet, He still loves me and is my friend.
Likewise, just because we don’t agree with everything that someone believes or does, does not mean that we fear or hate them.
This also is an altogether separate issue.
Just because we disagree with someone’s lifestyle, religion or choices does not make me a homophobe or any other type of “phobe”, nor a hater nor attacker of their belief system.
And yet, when we do love, accept and befriend someone who is different than us in this fashion, we are all too often labeled as “tolerant” by fellow Christians. And the worst thing we can be as Christians today is “tolerant”.
Jesus was not tolerant of sin. He just loved sinners.
Why can’t we?
Shouldn’t we love – and befriend – especially wicked sinners and those who are not our brethren… those who are not like us?
Well, let me tell you something: We don’t have any other option.
We are commanded to.
For more info about Dewey and his ministry, visit www.DeweyBertolini.com