I’ll admit that Christmas Vacation is my favorite Christmas movie. And cousin Eddie may be one of the most memorable characters in the movie. We all know people like cousin Eddie. They are odd, crude, or insensitive. Frankly, they are hard to love. But, we tolerate them because they are family.
In John 15:9 Jesus makes a shocking statement regarding loving hard to love people. Jesus says, “as the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.” I think many Christians operate with a view of God’s love towards them that is on par with Clark Griswold’s love of cousin Eddie. God tolerates us and loves us because we are now part of His family. But, He really doesn’t like having us around. And yet, Jesus reminds us very clearly this is not the case. God’s love for us is compared to and equated with His love for His Son. That is hard to comprehend, and yet it is true. We are actually much harder to love than cousin Eddie. Scripture states that we are born into this world as sinners, rebels, and enemies of God (Ephesians 2:1-3). And yet, God demonstrates His love for us by sending Jesus to die for us to reconcile us back to God (Romans 5:8). God loves the hard to love and the unlovable.
But then Jesus calls us to not only receive the love He gives but to allow our lives to be a conduit for His love to others. In John 15:12 Jesus says, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” So now we are called to love others as He has loved us. This means we are to loved others with a love that is unmerited, unconditional, and sacrificial. We are to love the hard to love and the unlovable.
If we are honest, this seems really hard. Actually, it is impossible… in our own ability. That is why Jesus tells us back in John 15:5 to abide in Him if we want to have the power and ability to bear the fruit He calls us to produce. Our ability to love others as He has loved us is not to be achieved by a sheer force of the will or in our own strength. It is through the grace and power that He provides. We are called to abide in Jesus by spending time in His Word and seeking Him in prayer allowing Him to work in and through us.
So, are you having a hard time experiencing and knowing God’s love for you? Then you need to abide in Christ. Are you having a hard time loving others as Christ has loved you? Then you need to abide in Christ. As we do this we will be able to better understand His love for us as the cousin Eddie of the family and extend that love to the other Eddie’s of the world.