Love your neighbor as yourself. -Mark 12:31 (NIV)

A friend loves at all times, And a brother is born for adversity. -Proverbs 17:17 (NASB)

I sat expectantly in a diner across the table from an old friend and colleague, who had something heavy to share with me. I just knew he was quitting.

Well, he was quitting, but not his job. He declared that he was quitting being a man, and would self-identify as a woman, and was already deep in hormone replacement therapy and other treatments.

The first thought that came to my head was the recurring theme of the Book of Judges: that man did what was right in his own eyes. That book is a microcosm of the whole of the Bible and all of human history, since man has constantly chosen to define good and evil on his own terms, rather than God’s. There’s nothing new under the sun.

After my friend went on for about 15 minutes straight, he asked me to share how I felt. I knew that this was a critical moment for being a true agent of God’s love, or to be a self-righteous judge, jury, and executioner.

I told him that my world view was very different from his, but that I would always be his friend. That was crucial, because the Lord is our friend no matter how far we stray, and He is the father who will run to embrace His prodigal children. His love is unconditional.

The world says that when we live by a moral view not in agreement with the world’s, that must mean we “hate” others who don’t agree with us. I disagree. Love isn’t conditional upon agreeing points of view.

If all people are made in God’s image, then we mistreat God when we mistreat others. Jesus demonstrated how to treat all people, to be love incarnate. It was not an enabling love, but one that was there in the midst of society’s outcasts and undesirables…sometimes the very ones who are closest to the brokenness needed to finally let go of self and be receptive to the God who was there waiting for them the whole time.

God never quit on the world that quit on Him, spat on Him, beat Him, and crucified Him. As true Christ followers, neither will we quit on the world.

So, my friend and I left the diner with the understanding that our friendship remains, while our viewpoints differ–and that’s perfectly okay.

This turn of events, as are all, are no accident. I believe that such trends are a true test of the walk of believers in the face of a defiant, Godless world. But even in the very middle of a world that’s turned its back on God, you can find Him: My friend’s new middle name translates to Joan…which means, “God is gracious.”

Today’s video word study

The excellent Bible Project’s video on sin/khata…and how our mistreatment of others is mistreatment of God, because we’re all made in His image.