Although love was certainly in the air as I clicked my way around the net this morning, there was also a jarring juxtaposition of hate. On the same social media sites brimming with love and good will, there were messages and memes rife with rancor, hate, judgment, and divisiveness. Some of these venomous posts were made by people who claim to be followers of Jesus. This puzzles me. How can those who claim to love God express hatred for so many of the people God created?
The amazing force of the gospel of love is never released until we touch Jesus and he touches us. Until that happens, we only have religion and religion is never enough to overcome hate. Religion consists of rules and regulations. It allows us to use God as an excuse for bigotry and exclusion in the name of piety. God becomes little more than an extension of our political position, the head of another civic organization, a symbol to validate our prejudices and judgmental views.
God does not call us to be religious. He calls us to have a relationship with him through his Son, Jesus. This relationship requires us to love every person whether we want to or not. It commands us to forgive, accept, embrace, and include even when it is inconvenient and outside our comfort zone. Having a relationship with Jesus is the only way to know his heart of love. It is the only way to channel that love to everyone he brings into our circle of life.