Christ’s Two-Faced Love

I always find it interesting that I can have a positive relationship with one Christian pastor while at the same time being spit upon and condemned by another. Yes, yes… I’m quite aware that there are different Christian faiths but I’m told, by Christians themselves mind you, that one of the defining aspects of Christ’s teachings is to ‘love thy neighbor’.

As an outsider, well nowadays anyhow, I find this a little disingenuous, especially given the situation mentioned above. Furthermore, if I were to jettison all the knowledge I have of the Christian tradition, i.e. the historical developments that led up to and continue to influence its doctrine etc. , (and, really why the hell not, Christian practitioners don’t seem to be too concerned about their own history these days) I think I’d find a very two-faced Jesus.

On hand, we have the Christians who seem to really take the ‘love thy neighbor’ thing to heart. In my dealings with these sorts of Christians, the emphasis is on having a positive beneficial relationship with their neighbors, even if they *GASP* aren’t Christian. These Christians seem willing and able to discuss ideas about the world and to undertake this journey we call life with their neighbors. While there may be evangelical elements that give rise to some of their actions, these Christians seems to have a respect for their fellow human beings. In essence, these Christians seem secure enough in their faith to live without the need to have others adhere to their worldview. In essence, they are comfortable with loving or assisting others unconditionally.

On the other hand, you have Christians that seem to take ‘love thy neighbor’ as grounds to abuse and insult those that are unlike themselves. ‘Love’ here is the reason for their evangelical fervor. It appears somewhere along the line Christ said something like; “If they aren’t like us or question our truth then they need to be brought in line. It’s for their own good!” If you don’t have Christ in your heart they’re simply okay with writing his name on a knife and putting it there. (Okay maybe that’s a little overboard but I think you get my drift) Such Christians see little use in dialoging with their neighbors because they don’t feel that they have anything to really offer. After all, such Christians already believe that they follow Christ infallibly, or at least are already well on their way to doing so. Their concern is convincing their neighbors to follow in their footsteps. In essence, ‘love thy neighbor’ means to make them like themselves.

I’d argue that these two ways of emulating Christ are inherently contradictory. If I put back in my knowledge of Christian history I can see that these two viewpoints have clashed many, many times. Do I have a solution? Nope. Nor do I need one. It’s not my problem. This is simply something I find interesting.

Still, I do think it’s something Christians themselves should consider. I sometimes wonder if they really have a good understanding of the way they are presenting themselves to their neighbors.

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One Response to “Christ’s Two-Faced Love”

  1. Lori Says:

    I ask myself the same when my doorbell rings and it’s my “neighbors” telling me they have a message to share with me from Jesus. Really? Cuz I just talked to him and I think we communicate just fine. And I don’t believe it’s Christ who is truly two-faced, but the human interpretation of Him from a self-serving frame of mind that causes the dischord. Of course, I belong to a faith that only a few years ago adopted the acceptance of other beliefs and practices, so “love thy neighbor” has had both meanings you brought up. Depends on your generation what version you were given. 🙂

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