Loving Those Who Hurt Us
By Michelle S. Lazurek
I slumped down into our usual booth at the local diner, while my friend greeted me sadly with the four sad words no pastor’s wife wants to hear: “I’m leaving the church.”
While my friend explained her reasons for desiring to leave, I quickly realized her grumblings amounted to nothing more than personal worship preferences instead of spiritual awakening or theological differences. As the discussion heated up, I paused and asked, “Which concerns God more: our difference of opinion or our strained relationship?” She pondered the question and then said, “I think God cares about both.” I left the meeting hurt and grief stricken.
“So, now what do I do with this relationship that will never be the same?”
When I’m faced with these types of difficult situations, I have a choice to make. I can choose to love and get mad when that love is not reciprocated, or I can merely love out of the love God has shown me.
As a disciple, Jesus calls us to love others simply out of our love for God. No strings attached. No hope that it will benefit us. The New Testament translates the word love with several different Greek words:
Phileo refers to brotherly love. This love refers to a fondness of heart and is based on our feelings.
“Agape” is the selfless, sacrificial love that is completely motivated by the desire to benefit someone else. This love begins in the mind and manifests itself in loving choices and actions towards others. It is not based on feelings. This is the kind of love God has for us.
We can demonstrate agape love by:
Lavishing others with our love.
1 John 3:1 says, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” The word for “what great” used here is potapen, which means “of what country.” God’s extraordinary (agape) love appears foreign to those who encounter it. If we love others with an extraordinary love, we draw people to Christ.
According to The Athens Review, an atheist named Patrick Greene fought to remove the Henderson County, Texas nativity scene on the courthouse lawn. He dropped the lawsuit because he discovered he had a detached retina and would not be able to afford expensive surgery. A member of Sand Springs Baptist Church in Athens read about his story and asked him how they could meet his needs. He said the family could use money for groceries. When a check came in the mail for $400, he was overwhelmed. “My wife and I have never had a Christian do anything nice for us,” Greene stated. He later purchased a star to put on top of the tree in the nativity scene and is writing a book about this story calling it “The Real Christians of Henderson County.” He said, “These people are acting like what the Bible says a Christian does.”
Love manifests itself when it seeks to meet the needs of those in the community and throughout the world.
Laying down our lives for others.
1 John 3:16 says “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.”
As I said goodbye to my friend at the diner, I harbored anger and never wanted to speak to her again. Yet, the love God demonstrated to me was agape love: given freely, without conditions, limits, or boundaries. Agape love sets the captive free, forgives the vilest offense, and even bids a good friend all the best in the midst of grief and loss.
I chose to love my friend with agape love that day. That meant I put aside my anger and hurt and chose to live in peace. I still pray for her and wish her all the best.