Intentional love

Partiality is not going to serve anyone well. In the time of Christ, there were "systems" of people - some might call them "castes" - some more affluent and "honored" than others, while others were looked down on because of disease, poverty, mental state, or even what they did for a living. The idea of God allowing the sun to shine on the rich and the poor, the diseased and the well, the farmer and the tax collector, is Jesus' way of reminding us that no one sticks out as the "shining star" in God's eyes. All are equal - all receive the same attention, privilege, and honor in his eyes. 

You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies. Pray for those who treat you badly. If you do this, you will be children who are truly like your Father in heaven. He lets the sun rise for all people, whether they are good or bad. He sends rain to those who do right and to those who do wrong. If you love only those who love you, why should you get a reward for that? Even the tax collectors do that. And if you are nice only to your friends, you are no better than anyone else. Even the people who don’t know God are nice to their friends. What I am saying is that you must be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect. (Matthew 5:43-48)

Neither money nor poverty impact how he thinks about us. Neither beautiful physical features or the plainness of a simple way of living impress him. He exhibits an attitude of grace and acceptance of all who turn his way. The religious leaders of the day had a hard time with this one - especially when Jesus modeled it by hanging out with tax collectors, prostitutes, the diseased, and then came into the synagogue to teach a lesson or two on the Sabbath. It just wasn't in their "system of beliefs" to be lacking in this "social partiality". But...it was not Jesus' intention to win a popularity contest - it was his intention to embrace all of mankind with his grace and love! We'd do well to model this behavior in our own lives.

Love sometimes doesn't get returned in the way we might expect it to be returned. We have the idea there should be some form of "compensation" for what it is we "bring" into the relationship with one another and even Jesus. Jesus didn't just go to those who accepted his teaching and warmly embraced him. He stood in the crowds of naysayers and those who were in out-right opposition to him. He helped the widows and the captains of the armies - both with nothing to give back to him. He opened the eyes of the blind and made the withered arms straight - some never even looking back to say thank you for the tremendous reward of being made whole again. 

Learning to give "into" a relationship without expecting something "from" it might just be one of the hardest lessons for us to grasp, because love just yearns to be returned in some manner. Jesus yearned for a return of his love from those he touched - he didn't demand it, though. It was intentional that he loved us - he just loved, and loved, and kept on loving - not waiting for a return of that love. Just sayin!

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