Every two years the world sets its sights on a different location in the world for either the summer or winter Olympic Games. The Olympics Games showcase the best of athletic skill and poise. As the games begin the Opening Ceremonies show the world that despite the differences between cultures, religions, belief systems and even war conflicts, the spirit of competition and sportsmanship prevail.
Perhaps we as followers of Christ can learn from these Olympic athletes, not in the sense of striving for athletic perfection but for acceptance. Too often we can have preconceived notions regarding a group of people or even a religion. We jump to conclusions, we make wild accusations and claims, all because we believe we have superior views or concepts over others.
Jesus Christ calls us to a different standard. We are called to welcome the stranger, love the other, and pray for our enemy. Jesus’ command is one that made the law of God harder and for some it too difficult to follow. It is easier to think we have it all figured out and that our ways are the best but as followers of Christ we cannot act this way.
If we claim to be followers of Christ, then we must show it all people at all times in all places; we cannot show the love of Christ when we want or when it is convenient, or when we like the people we are around. By doing so we are putting conditions on love, something God did not do to us. I John 4:19 reads “we love because God first loved us.” The author of I John is stating that the only reason you have the capacity to love another human being is because God first loved you; by putting conditions on love we are limiting the unconditional love that was shown to us and squandering a free gift that was given by God. What makes us the moral standard for people? We are sinful and prideful and arrogant, just like other people. We have been given grace and we must show grace, we have been given love and we must show love, we have been given acceptance and we must accept others no matter their race, creed, skin color, socio-economic status or sexual orientation. All are children of God and deserve our love, respect and care. By denying that from people, we are effectively denying the love of God from them. Who are we to deny people the love of God? It was given to us freely, so we should give it freely as well.
Loving others despite differences is hard and it something that can take a life time and some hard work, much like the life of an Olympic athlete.
Let us remember to love one another because God has loved us so much.