When dealing with difficult people, I’ve often been advised to “Love them like Jesus would.” But, if we’re really going to be honest about who Jesus is, that’s humanly impossible.
Many people didn’t like Jesus because of this. He pointed out their sin. He didn’t hug them and pretend everything was OK. He didn’t accept them as they were, living in their sin. He told them exactly how they stood before a holy God. (John 3:3-5, John 4:1-30)
Now, I’m not saying it’s good or healthy to stay angry at someone, or to hate anyone. However, to love someone in the way that Jesus loves them (assuming He actually does love them) is to be willing to point out their sin to them, and to demand that they confront and deal with their problems. (Matthew 15:21-28)
I don’t think most people are up to that task. And I don’t think that they necessarily should be.
In fact, I don’t think most people understand the depth of Jesus’ love. It is not a human love. It is divine.
To love like Jesus is to be OK with upsetting people. To love like Jesus is to be OK with people hating you. To love like Jesus is to understand 100% and willingly accept that the very same people who you are showing love toward are going to torture and murder you. To love like Jesus is to look into the abyss of an evil heart and choose to redeem it … or not. (Luke 5:29-32)
I don’t have the capacity for that quality of love. I don’t have the capacity for 5% of that love. For one thing, I’m not omniscient. For another, I’m not God.
I can forgive people in the sense that I can let go of my anger toward them. I can accept an apology and move on just like anybody else. But I can’t absolve anyone of their sin, or truly know what’s in their heart, or trust someone who has proven to be untrustworthy.
I am not Jesus, and thankfully, Jesus doesn’t expect me to be. His yoke is easy. His burden is light. We are called to forgive the sin of others, but we are never called to be blind to it.
“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” Matthew 10:16