You’ll never be able to have peace with difficult people until you’ve chosen to love them. Love is absolutely the foundation for peace with people.
The Old Testament contained a LOT of commandments, but one glaring omission is the command to love people. For hundreds of years people thought they were pleasing God because they were meeting the bare minimum expectations of the law, like not murdering people.
Jesus came to challenge all of that. He didn’t abolish the law. He just gave us a pathway to honoring the spirit of the law by doing two simple things:
Jesus put it this way:
Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
~ Matthew 22:37-39 NIV
And why is it so hard to love people? It’s because they’re difficult. We’re all difficult. We’ve all been broken by sin and circumstances and we’ve turned inwardly to care about our own needs more than the needs of others.
But when you’re redeemed by Jesus Christ and his death on the cross, you begin to understand what it looks like to love people in spite of what they believe or how they behave. You have the capacity to love because God, who is love, created you in his own image. You are capable of loving!
It’s not always easy. You’ll never do it perfectly. But as Bob Goff says,
No one expects us to love them flawlessly, but we can love them fearlessly, furiously, and unreasonably.
~ Bob Goff, Everybody, Always
Unreasonably, Bob? Yes. You can love people when they’re mean. When they’re at odds with you. When their lifestyle or their background is different that yours. It’s going to take courage, commitment, and compassion, all of which you’ll have to cultivate in some very hard moments.
But if Jesus did it, so can you. He loved the very people who were nailing him to a cross. You can definitely love your difficult neighbor.