That song has been going through my head for the last couple of days. Sometimes, it’s hard to know what to think of the world. Between government shutdowns, skewed media perspectives, school shootings, and earthquakes, we are alternately outraged, jaded, sad, and full of compassion. Yet all this leads to either an empty emotionalism where our reactions are largely ignored, especially by ourselves, or a deep-seated apathy because we cannot afford to care anymore.
There’s no denying that the world is not really that wonderful. The people in it are selfish, 3-inch hornets are killing dozens, and floods and fires wreck towns and lives ruthlessly. Jesus knew better than anyone else how broken this world is, especially its people. He even got frustrated with people’s lack of faith. Yet not once did He allow the world to overcome Him and get Him down. He always had compassion, even for those who nailed Him to the cross.
Why? Because Jesus saw the people in this world as people His Father loved, as people He loved Himself. And because His love was pure, it wasn’t dependent on whether they loved Him in return, whether they shared His political views, or whether they lived according to His moral code. He decided to love them, and so they were loved.
When Leah and I first began our relationship, we talked about what love and marriage meant. Love is not an emotion, as it seems to be so often portrayed in movies. It’s not passion, though it often inspires passion. It’s not even a decision to care for the other person when they have offended or hurt you. It’s a commitment to always making the decision to love. Every morning, Leah and I decide to love each other that day, no matter what the other person does. And that love, the commitment to making that decision, has helped make our first several months of marriage wonderfully easy. We’ve had stumbling blocks, but we help each other over them. We’ve hurt each other, but we’ve talked it out and resolved the issue quickly. All because our love is always there.
Our love needs to be grown, though, so that it extends to everyone we meet. Friends and family are (usually) easy to love, but that annoyingly talkative coworker, the kids who egged your house on Halloween, the person at the supermarket who dinged your car door and didn’t leave a note – can you love them freely?
We have three options in this life:
1. We can contribute to the world’s problems by seeking our own interests first.
2. We can stay out of the mess and just complain about it, waiting for others to fix it.
3. We can love others, regardless of what they do, and try to make it the same wonderful world that Louis Armstrong and Jesus saw.