About a month ago Jeremy Courtney spoke at the church I attend. He started an organization called preemptive love. They work in Iraq and have been working there since 2007.
Especially, after 9/11 people were ready to shoot first and ask questions later. Jeremy talked about an alternative way. The motto they live by at preemptive love is love first, ask questions later. Before anything else, they want to love people.
It’s not about trying to figure everything out first. It’s not about sizing up people to see if they are going to hurt me or help me. It’s not even about having everything figured out or knowing everything, but it’s about loving first, that’s it.
As I sat there I thought this was such a simple but, radical idea. Why is it that whenever someone says, love people, is seems to be so difficult?
People hurt me. I get defensive. I go into protection mode. How do I protect myself? I shoot, not with bullets, but with words. Shoot first and ask questions later has never settled well with me. There’s a fine line between protection and judgment/hatred.
It’s easy to step onto the side of judgmentalism and hatred. It’s easy to say I’m protecting me, my family, or even my country while at the same time allowing this protection to morph into hatred for another person, a group, or set of ideas.
Jesus never said love those who are like you and who are easy to love. He says pretty much the opposite. Love’s hard, it’s messy, sometimes it doesn’t make sense, and it may even get you killed.
The writers of the Gospels are constantly telling stories of how Jesus loved people first and ask questions later.
One of the clearest examples that I see of Jesus loving people first and asking questions later is the book of Luke, or as some have called it the book of inclusion.
Nearly every story Luke records is about the Pharisees or even Jesus’ disciples asking, “But Jesus these people can’t possibly be included, right?” Jesus responds every single time with, “Yes, even those people are included. I’m doing something new where it’s not just about Israel, this new thing is for everyone.”
The poor, they’re in.
The hungry, they’re in.
Women, they’re in.
The enemy (Romans), they’re in.
Samaritans (The other enemy), they’re in.
People who you think are outcasts, they’re in.
No one is outside of the love of Jesus and no one should be outside of my love either. Everyone is included
In the middle of the Beatitudes, Jesus’ longest message, He talks about loving those we view as enemies. This idea by itself is difficult but directly following it Jesus does a bit on not judging others.
Jesus has seen that hatred for people and judgment go hand in hand. Jesus is saying here that we need to love everyone.
This is difficult. It feels uncomfortable, but I think when things feel uncomfortable it usually a good indicator that it’s the thing God wants me to do.
Jesus seems to ask throughout the entire book of Luke, “Why aren’t you including this person and that person, and oh, what about that person over there. You should be including everyone.”
This reminds me of what I heard over and over again when I was in Elementary school. My mom always told me to include everyone especially the ones who were alone, who were on the outside looking in, the ones no one else wanted to talk to.
She was teaching me the way of Jesus. I needed to love everyone, especially the ones that are different than me, especially those that everyone else said, “You don’t belong.”
It’s as if Jesus, Jeremy, and Jessie (my mom) were saying, “I know it’s uncomfortable and even difficult to include people but no one is to be left out, everyone is in. Everyone has a part, everyone is to be loved.”
It’s easy to make life difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s just about loving people in spite of everything. Love first, ask questions later.