Featured Post: "Courage To Love Like Christ" | Marian Amo

I bumped into someone at church the other day and the encounter was like a poster for awkward moments. I came to the last service with a friend of mine to hear a guest speaker and there she was. The person whose interactions always leave me with weird vibes and a question in my heart as to whether we are friends or frenemies. She walked towards my friend with arms wide-open, a big smile on her face and hugged my friend. Then she proceeded to talk to my friend for a couple of minutes before giving me an obligatory side hug. You know the one you give to the other person standing next to the person you really want to talk to so they don't feel left out? Yeah. To make matters worse, there's a growing film of awkwardness between her and I that stem from a series of actions and responses that display a lack of sincerity. But here's the twist, my perspective on the situation, maybe even on all of our interactions could be stemming from my own inherent distrust of people.
            I struggle with trusting people. Actually, let me be more specific; I struggle with giving the motives of people the benefit of the doubt especially when I have witnessed signs of deceit.  Now 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 lays out what love is. One of the descriptions of love is that it "always trusts". That must be a typo because God couldn’t possibly be asking me to extend trust towards people, right? Or maybe that's just how he loves and that's great except that he commanded me to love others as he has loved me. So that leaves me in a pickle. How do I conquer this element of love without feeling like a fool or a push over? What am I missing?
            I have caught myself countless of times concluding the worst about someone's intentions before their real intentions were revealed. Now I can say that my gut instincts about people have been as accurate as that of those who build rockets launched into space but then again, some of those rockets have exploded mid air. Yet the greatest damage to a clear perspective is often our own fears, insecurities and undue resentment of people. So after meditating on 1 Corinthians 13, I realized a couple of things that shifted my view.
            Loving someone cannot be dependent on the person. That sounds strange right? Yet when you look at the character of God, that's exactly how he operates. God's love is unwavering because He is motivated by who he is not by how we act. "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." - Romans 5:8. If we're waiting for someone to give us a reason to love the way Christ has commanded us, we won't love anyone. In fact, we'll hate everyone because people give more reasons to stay away than to embrace.
            Quite honestly, "the benefit of the doubt" is called as such because there is a reason to doubt their sincerity.  Yet we decide what we want to assume about each other and when we chose to extend grace on someone's character by not assuming the worst of him or her, then we give God a chance to let his love flow through us. Even if it turns out that their intentions were wicked, our thoughts and actions (which are the only things we have control over) remain blameless. Then God gets to enact justice without the drama that comes from us acting out on our own misconceptions.
            Nothing causes more discomfort for me than being in the presence of someone I don't trust. I feel it emotionally and physically. Yet I am learning that in those moments, there is an opportunity to exercise love. The reason why God allows awkward situations is to teach us to draw from the Holy Spirit who enables us to love outside of ourselves. The only relief I have in the presence of someone I’m not completely sure of, is that God knows everything. He searches the hearts of man and judges their thoughts. People might try to play you, but God always exposes the truth sooner or later. Therefore our position is not to police the motives of others but to be instruments of love and grace.
            When we stop worrying about how other people will affect us and trust that God is in control and that he will use what the devil intends for evil for good, we are at liberty to love like Christ. Even more importantly, we stop focusing on someone else's flaw and examine our own hearts. Sometimes past wounds, insecurities and jealousy create an environment in our own hearts that make it hard for us to trust other people.
            Whether I like it or not, the awkward element of love is also the element that opens and closes the gates of fellowship because all interactions remain on the surface until that grace is given.