Strangely enough, most Christians believe that this principle was first given by Christ (Matthew 22:39). What they don’t realize is that he was simply quoting the Torah.
“Love your neighbor as yourself” is the major principle of the Torah. — Palestinian Talmud, Nedarim 9:4
This commandment of both the Old and New Testaments is one which many Christians choose to put stipulations on. There are many Christians that treat others with such hatred and disrespect simply because of their divergent beliefs or behaviors. They love those who love them, or, love those that believe they same way. God did not say to love them “because” of anything. He simply said to love them as you love yourself. This requires us to love “in spite” of our differences.
What this means is that we should speak to them the way we wish to be spoken to; using grace, compassion and love, seasoning our words in this manner even in times of correction. This means that we should treat them the way that we wish to be treated; using grace, compassion and love even in times of correction. To attack others because of differing views, perspectives, beliefs or behaviors makes void this command to love. Love is kind, gracious, gentle, forgiving, longsuffering, compassionate and so much more. Treating others with love, and correcting in love, allows both parties to “save face.” People can have differing views and still love each other. Allowing another to save face, however, shows love and concern for the others well-being and fulfills this command to love.
The KEY to learning HOW to do this lies in our ability to COMMUNICATE effectively. This one thing can bridge the gap and bring peace between differing opinions. If you get angry when you are confronted with differing views or behaviors, then maybe your communication skills are lacking; or, maybe your education needs updating. Herein lies the second KEY to bridging the gap between differing views – KNOWLEDGE. When a person locks himself into a mindset that “I am right and you are wrong”, it shows us that they have no room to even try and understand the differing view. Sadly, this attitude, by its very nature is in direct opposition to the command that we are to love our neighbor. Love is gentle and kind and ALWAYS looks to the others’ benefit. What good is all of your knowledge if it is used to attack, maime and destroy your opponent in stead of REASONING with them in love? Reasoning in love can bring about unity and peace. Are we not to “seek peace and pursue it?” Pursuing peace requires much diligent effort. “Keeping the unity in the bonds of peace” requires loving our neighbor as ourselves. If one is unable to do this, then it is important to just be silent and not say a word. One’s intent or motive should not be to hurt, attack, humiliate or destroy another. It should be to reason with them in love, and if an agreement cannot be reached, to agree to disagree–all in the name of love and respect.
So much more could be said on this subject, but, I will stop here. This is just something to ponder and think about.
— Cynthia McClaskey