Have you ever had one of those dreams where you’re standing before a crowd and suddenly realize that you’re not dressed? There you are in your underwear, or maybe completely nude, feeling mortified. It’s actually a very common dream that many people report having. One interpretation is that the dream is a subconscious indicator that the dreamer feels exposed or unprepared.
Lately, there’s been a whole lot of nudity around. Not in my dreams, but in the real world. The problem isn’t new but it certainly seems to be running rampant. There’s a spiritual nakedness that streaks across online posts and comments and across radio and air waves. Sometimes it flashes us in the office breakroom or even in our own living rooms.
Jesus was clear in how we are to conduct ourselves as His followers. He left us the command to love.
“The most important command is this…You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind and all your strength. The second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself. No other commandment is greater than these.” -Mark 12:30-31
The love He speaks of isn’t romantic love, it’s not brotherly love. It is agape love. It is a love without conditions.
· It doesn’t mean warm and fuzzy feelings.
· It doesn’t mean approval of behavior.
· It doesn’t mean tolerated abuse.
· It doesn’t mean a lack of boundaries.
· It doesn’t mean letting someone hurt themselves.
· It doesn’t even mean agreement.
· But it does mean behavior, words, and deeds that are other-centered, respectful, kind, and considerate.
And that love we are called to have extends far beyond our neighborhoods. Jesus commands us to love everyone, even and perhaps most importantly, the enemy. Those who disrespect us. Those who hurl insults. Those who are cruel. Those our flesh wants to grab hard and shake, even those our flesh wants to destroy.
“You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven.’- Matthew 5:43-45a
Our time here is not about ourselves. It’s about God and pointing people to Him. But without love we are ill prepared to represent Christ to a hurting world. Though our message may be true, unless we are first dressed in love, they are too distracted by our nudity to hear the words, much less let them touch their hearts.
There’s something else that Jesus said about love. It convicts me, perhaps it convicts you too.
“Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me.”-John 14:21a
So, if we are truly Christians, those who have accepted Christ as our personal Savior, then the answer of how to interact with all people at all times is simple. We follow His command and love.
No matter who they are:
A sister who let you down
A friend who turned against you
A gun-loving hunter
An animal rights activist
A person of color
A white man
A gay teen
A straight girl
A pro-life supporter
A pro-choice supporter
If we’re not loving them, we’re not loving Him.
Lesson for the Journey:
Agape love doesn’t come automatically, but neither does wearing clothes. To do either one, you must first be intentional. Don’t show the world a naked Christian. Remember, you aren’t fully dressed until you put on love.
- Ann Wilds
Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourself with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.