Whenever I’m in the car with my dad I’m reminded why I don’t like driving with my dad. He’s a fine driver, safe, of course, but he tends to stop quickly, start fast, and the temp is never right. He either has the fan on full blast or off, hot or cold. So, no matter the season, in his car I’m freezing or sweating.
My father’s driving technique is a reflection of the extreme methods of how we relate to one another, to our beliefs on the most pressing issues of our day. Regrettably, it’s also reflective of how we treat people.
The most frustrating thing about communication in the world today is the lack of moderation in thought. Beliefs can only be one extreme or the other.
You either think Trump is the absolute devil, or you worship him at the altar of the Republican party.
You either think women should have the absolute right to abortion, on demand, at any point in a pregnancy, or you think that women should be back in the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant at all times, a slave to her husband.
You either think the Covid-19 virus is a complete hoax and those who wear masks and practice social distancing are brainwashed by the government, or you think that we are all going to die of it if we ever leave our homes ever again.
Either you support protesters AND violence, looting, etc., or you are racist. These are the only options.
In the book of Revelation, we are told “I know your works; I know that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” While I believe that our faith and zeal for God needs to be either scalding or freezing, I think in the practicalities of life, we need to be a little more flexible. Because this isn’t about being lukewarm, but about the dignity of the human person.
Everyone, no matter their beliefs, is a beloved creature of God. The person checking the opposite box to yours at the polls is equal in dignity. When we label others and stick to those labels, we cheapen the humanity of all.
If we love a person more or less because of the color of their skin, the hat on their head, or their chosen lifestyles or opinions, we love all people less. This does not mean that people are not to be criticized or corrected, on the contrary, to love a person means to also desire their salvation. Fraternal correction is an act of love, but needs to be employed with sensitivity and care. Bellowing out that those who think one way on a certain cause are wrong and evil across social media platforms is not acting in love, sensitivity, or care.
Loving is not just looking at the extremes, loving is seeing the person, taking the middle road, the more difficult road. It’s understanding that people have beliefs based on their knowledge and experiences, which are unique to each person.
Loving your neighbor is giving the benefit of the doubt that they make their choices and form their opinions based on what they believe is true. Loving your neighbor is praying for them and respecting them even when you disagree with them. Maybe that’s being lukewarm, but offer the truth to them in a way that respects and honors their humanity, and let them form their minds. And then keep praying for them. Being hot or cold to people is not the way to love them, or to convert their hearts.
For “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return.”
It’s easy to be one extreme or another, moderation is difficult, just as love is difficult. It’s not easy to love, really love, another person. It wasn’t easy for Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and it’s not easy for us as Christians. He told us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us, because that is love. Praying for your friends and family, and those “on your side” is easy. Praying for the “other side” is difficult, but so much more important, and so much more rewarding.
So pray for those who disagree with you, be kind to those who are unkind to you, bless those who persecute you, however grueling it may be. Love your neighbor, all of your neighbors, not just those next-door. This is the only way to make a real difference in the world. And for Pete’s sake, moderate your cars temperature, your passengers are freezing.
Kristina Awdish is a wife and mother of five (three in
heaven), She has a bachelor’s degree in political science and theology,
and a Master’s Degree in theology. She is currently in the chaos of mothering
young ones, but appreciates the opportunity to stop and write when the rare
chance arises. Thank you for reading.