Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Shocking People with Love

I teach high school English, and an assignment I like to give my students at the end of each class involves me giving them a quote and having them free write for ten minutes about what that specific quote means to them. I like to make them think about things that wouldn't normally spend much time pondering.
In a recent class, I asked my students to write about what they think about Marjorie Hinckley once saying, "There isn't a person you wouldn't love if you could read their story." I instructed my students to really think about whether or not they agree with that statement, and how their opinion affects how they live their lives. I had one student share that he disagrees because even if we could know everyone's stories, there are still some people, like Hitler, who would just be impossible to love.

The truth is, unfortunately, we can't know everybody's stories. It's impossible to know the history of everyone we come into contact with. It's much easier to show love to close friends than to total stranger who harm us in some way. I think this is because we show our friends extra grace because we know about the hard things in their lives. As Christians, we're called to love everyone, even though we don't have the opportunity to know everyone's personal stories. I don't know the story of the man that mugged an older lady in a parking lot I was in last year, which terrified me, yet I'm still called to love that man.

So, while I see why my student struggled with the idea of loving everyone if we could know their stories, I can't agree with him that it's impossible. It's hard, yes. Very hard. Sometimes loving people we know closely can be tremendously difficult, so loving people whose personal backgrounds are a mystery to us can be even harder. I think that Hinckley has a point when she says it'd be easier to love if we could know everyone's stories, but at the same time, I think my student has a point as well. While knowing Hitler's life story may make loving him easier, it wouldn't magically make loving him easy.

Thankfully, we have Jesus as our example of love. He loved the very men who put Him on the cross. Now that's love. The next time I struggle with showing love to someone, I need to remember that I don't know their story, and giving them grace is the best way I can show Christian love. Francis Chan says that he "Wants to shock his enemies with Christian love." I adore this quote. I often write the word "shock" on my hand as a reminder to love fiercely.

So, while I do think knowing everyone's life stories would make loving people much easier, I can't let the fact that that's impossible stop me from loving. It just makes the responsibility a little harder. Today, I hope I was able to shock a few people. This is my prayer for everyday.

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