The past week was more than a little frustrating. Some family dropped in unannounced and just expected us to have a room for them. Now, when five people are already living in a house and most of the space is occupied, this is no easy feat. But it is doable. When they came by last time, we allowed them to use our living room. But we didn’t offer this time, and it wasn’t a good time for company anyway. Despite people’s misgivings about them coming, they took over our living room and actually holed themselves in it the entire time they were here.
By the third day, we had had enough. And when we overheard them and my brother-in-law talking crap about us through the door (along with some pre-existing issues that I am not going to talk about here), enough was enough. We asked them to leave. What followed was accusations and fights and an actual lecture from my brother-in-law about how we were rude, and even un-Christian, for asking them to leave. Needless to say, the situation was a mess and some of the logistics are still being worked out for if it happens again.
When all was said and done, I got to thinking about love. What is loving in a situation like this? On the one hand, love says that you give someone a place to stay and something to eat if they don’t have it. After all, in doing so, you might be entertaining angels. On the other hand, love says that you have an obligation to protect your family, a husband has the duty to love his wife as he loves himself and even to go so far as to lay down his life for her (and I would say that this applies to wives as well toward their husbands).
Our situation put these two loves head to head. Stand up for the family unit versus take care of the “needy.” We chose to defend our family.
What do you do when love conflicts with love? How do you handle these kinds of situations?
I think it really comes down to being like Jesus. Christianity as an institutional religion doesn’t offer any solution to this kind of thing. The person dealing with the scenario is left to deal with the situation herself because, as is commonly said, it is a “matter of conscience.” What this means is that you have to do what is right for you. Being like Jesus yields a different result.
One time, Jesus went to the temple along with His disciples, and what He saw really pissed Him off. People were there trading and buying and selling. It was a filthy mess of animal dung and food waste. Jesus has told these people over and over what true holiness is and what it means to follow God and here they are, in His Father’s house, causing a disruption by their corruptions.
Jesus grabs some straps and makes a whip and proceeds to throw these men out. He turns over some tables. Spills money on the floor. Sets animals free. The scene is nothing less than riotous. People screaming and yelling and a mess covering the floor.
And in the midst of all of this, Jesus yells, in no uncertain terms, “Get the hell out of my Father’s House! This is supposed to be a holy place and here you are using it to make a profit! Out! OUT! All of you!”
Jesus was always one to show love and compassion. He healed people and raised the dead and called His followers to turn the other cheek and give to those who asked. What happened?
Jesus had a higher love to show. While healing and miracles and peaceful demonstrations work wonders, they don’t have the same results when “family” begins to inadvertently destroy the home. In Jesus’ case, those who were claiming to be His children were acting in a manner far removed from how His family was to act. They were hurting His home. And He would have no part of it and refused to let it continue any longer.
Sometimes, life puts love at odds with love. Do you give the beggar a meal or do you share a Gospel presentation with him? Do you embrace the homosexual or do you tell her what the Bible says about it and risk alienating her? Do you share your home with all who come or do you turn some people away? This is real life, and there seems at times to be no cut and dried answer. But, if our goal is to be like Jesus, then we can easily see what He would do. Sometimes, one love must come before another love. This will not be popular to those steeped in religious jargon, but since when has being like Jesus ever been popular among those types?