Loving people can be difficult especially if you don’t even like them; but, if you don’t like them how can you follow Christ’s command to love them as you love your self? In today’s guest post by my wife, she shares a personal story of how her dislike for people challenged her to grow spiritually.
“But you don’t like people”
Those were the words Dan told me over ten years ago, when I asked him if he thought I could become a personal trainer like he was.
“No” he said succinctly. Baffled, I asked him why.
I began weight training with him when we were newly married and fell in love with lifting. I wanted to follow in his footsteps of personal training, and was taken aback when he replied, “Because you don’t like people, babe.”
Whoa. Gut punch. But only because he was unequivocally right.
One of the most beautiful things about marriage is transparency. He didn’t hurt me in telling me a reality I was overlooking, he just exposed my sin in a way I didn’t think others could see. This is why marriage to another believer in Christ is essential in refinement of your faith. You need accountability to own up to things you would rather sweep under the rug.
The truth was I knew it. But having him point his finger on it made me have it out with myself. It made me determined to prove him wrong.
God used this fact about me to come to terms with my own selfishness. My own false face. Was I a Christian? In words, certainly. In actions, mostly. But when the rubber met the road I have to admit I didn’t like people. I loved my family for sure, but I did not like people in general. This was because I had an immature, shallow, and unlearned sense of who God is, what He desires, and what my role is in His creation.
If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.” – 1 John 4:20
You know what’s worse than hate? Apathy. Indifference. And I had it in spades.
This situation challenged my faith and caused me to grow. Because I was determined to be someone who cared for others, the Lord began softening my heart. He began showing me what service and love was by using personal training as a teaching and testing ground.
Sometimes I question how a man like Daniel, with a deep sense of identity in Christ and a robust desire after God could possibly be married to a pip-squeak of a baby Christian who didn’t actually live the brand? How could he tolerate my hypocrisy?
Through the years as I’ve grown in maturity, I’ve learned that Christ is what led him. What constrained him. What gave him a patience and a grace to stand beside me, cultivating and teaching me with love in his heart and God’s purpose on his mind.
I’m grateful to say, the Lord dealt with me through Daniel in a stern but necessary way. I’m thankful that Dan was a spiritual guide, mentor, and rock upon which I could grow and mature in the Lord as he has.
This experience pierced me; it opened me wide to the greatest treasure inside me—Christ and allowing Him to be expressed in my life on a daily basis. Not only did I begin to like people, I began to love them. Truly, madly, deeply.
If this sounds nuts to you, it’s probably because you too have been wearing a false face. The love of God has no rhyme or reason. It doesn’t make sense. And it certainly goes against our natural tendencies.
Honestly I’m ashamed of this experience; but I’m also indebted to it. It’s much easier to portray a “life that wins” instead of the stain of the fall. The good news is there isn’t anything you’ve done that the Lord can’t redeem. He brought about an authentic transformation in my heart and now I’m grateful for the experience. I can wholeheartedly say, I love others because the Christ in me loves them. It isn’t conditional; it’s unmatched uncreated life that is released when I live by His Spirit and its sublime.
My hope is that when your spiritual identity is questioned, you don’t rail against those statements, but rather challenge your motives. Do they align with Christ? If not, have the courage to change your paradigm.