I was listening to a sermon by a pastor recently and heard him say, “I have no use for your religion when you claim to love a God you can’t see but hate your brothers and sisters who you can see.” It’s why religion disgusted Jesus as well. Religion of any flavor inevitably devolves into saying one thing with our lips but ignoring those same platitudes in our own lives.
Religion defines a set of rules no one can ever keep. We will never be able to effectively share the truth with others as long as we insist they adhere to a set of rules Jesus never laid down.
Jesus Himself said the most important commandment was to love God with all of our heart, soul, strength, and mind (Luke 10:27). He went on to say it was just as important to love everyone else as much as we love ourselves. Jesus linked these two commands to one another in such a way we cannot do one without the other. After telling people the greatest commandment was to love God with all your heart, He said the second commandment was like the first and proceeded to explain we had to love those around us in the same way we want to be loved.
People cannot see the love of God unless they see our love for them. We are the hands and feet of Christ. We are His ambassadors on earth. It is our duty to reflect the love of God, to show people in a very small way how awesome the love of God really is. When we proclaim the love of God and then turn our backs on those with different skin colors, lifestyles, or beliefs, we turn the beautiful love and sacrifice of Christ into just another religion.
It is our love for those we can see that validates and demonstrates the love of a God we cannot see. How can we ever expect people to believe in an unseen God unless we visibly love those with whom we come into contact? We are the manifestation of God’s love. Each of us is charged with spreading the truth of His character throughout the world. We do this by loving every person we encounter. God favors no group of people over another; He loves us all with His perfect and unconditional love.
I do not want to find out someday anyone rejected Jesus based on how I treated them or acted towards another. God created all people equal. We are one race with an incredible diversity. We cannot truly love God and hate our brothers and sisters. We were created for relationship with one another and with God. Nothing can separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:35-39), and so it follows nothing should come between us and loving others regardless of race, lifestyle, or creed. Don’t settle for empty religion. Follow the commands of Jesus and love God with everything you’ve got while reflecting His love to all people without discrimination.