I have never been “in love”, in the romantic sense, but I would like to think that I am familiar with love. There’s a whole lot of people in my life who I fiercely love. There’s people in my life who are hard to love and more who are easy to love, but I try my best to love well.

The more I think about this whole Christianity thing…sifting through different theologies and beliefs, muddling through all the opinions, hearing the same passage of scripture interpreted in five different ways to support a certain point of view, rock hard definitions of what Christianity should or shouldn’t look like, attending church services and coming away with more questions than answers, the more I realize all of that is secondary and really it can all come down to one thing…love.

God is love. That’s it. It’s actually pretty simple, why do we make it so complicated? This simple truth that God is love, God loves us, therefore we need to love each other. It’s not as complicated as I think we make it.

I think this is why it’s always been hard for me to come to grips with people who claim to love Jesus, but are racist, who call homosexual people names, and who have no tolerance for people that look, act, or believe differently than them. It’s why it’s hard for me to wrap my head around how a pastor can preach a fear-mongering sermon against people who are different than them or how people post articles promoting division and conflict. I know I and others are in no way perfect, but to so blatantly promote hate and anything other than love, just doesn't make sense to me.

Typically, I try at all costs to avoid “hot topic” issues and controversial things, if it doesn’t breed peace and harmony, I usually stay as far away as possible, but in the spirit of being unafraid this year, I feel like I can’t keep my mouth shut anymore. I want to engage people in conversations that can lead to understanding and acceptance, even knowing that doesn’t mean we will always agree.

The fact that I can still read a racist comment about our president or see Facebook blow up about what happened at the Grammy’s or read articles about how people are mad “America the Beautiful” wasn’t sung in English makes me sick and I don’t understand it. Why are Christians spreading so much hate? How does that even make sense?

I love how The Message version says this in 1 John, “If anyone boasts, “I love God,” and goes right on hating his brother or sister, thinking nothing of it, he is a liar. If he won’t love the person he can see, how can he love the God he can’t see? The command we have from Christ is blunt: Loving God includes loving people. You’ve got to love both.”

We have got to do both. Hate has no room in our lives if we claim to follow Jesus. We need to make our lives about love. Love for God, love for each other and actually a love for ourselves.

Please join me in trying to love better. Loving those who look different than you do, loving those who act different than you do, loving those who believe different than you do, even loving those who don’t love you.

Because I’m pretty sure when God said to love your neighbor as yourself, he meant it.  Love the people you can see, it’s a great place to start.