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I first experienced Bob Goff’s humor and wisdom whilst watching him in an interview with Michael Hyatt. I laughed, I caught myself evaluating my own actions, and I loved it so much I played it for staff worship at the small Christian school where I work.
When I had the opportunity to read his latest book, Everybody, Always: Becoming Love in a World Full of Setbacks and Difficult People, I jumped at the chance. I knew enough about his first book, Love Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World, to know that the content of the book held no secrets. In the interview, Goff explained that Love Does was just a bunch of stories explaining that love does. Love doesn’t hang out on street corners puffing itself up. It hugs strangers and comes alongside streetwalkers and millionaires alike.Love doesn't hang out on the street corners puffing itself up. It hugs strangers and comes alongside streetwalkers and millionaires alike. #lovedoes #everybodyalways Click To Tweet
Everybody Always extends that theme. We might ask ourselves how we as Christians should love others. Goff’s answer might surprise you (even though Jesus already told us the same thing in the Bible). Sure, we need to read our Bibles and apply what we learn in our lives—that’s how we get to know Jesus. But, according to Goff, “He [Jesus] also wants us to meet Him by loving the people who are difficult to get along with.”
I have some people like that in my life; I do a better job at avoiding them than loving them. But by avoiding them, I lose out on an opportunity to grow my faith. “The people who creep us out aren’t obstacles to having faith; they’re opportunities to understand our faith.”
Sure, I have faith. Our family has overcome some seemingly insurmountable obstacles—a near-lethal cancer encounter, a beloved family member’s struggle with depression and suicidal ideation, and job loss. Through it all, I’ve kept my family close and stayed as far away as possible from people who creep me out or annoy me greatly. I’ve also missed out on opportunities to grow my faith.
Everybody Should Have a Plan, Right?
I get involved in plan making and creating short-term and long-term goals. Sometimes, I accomplish those goals and other times they cripple me. But Goff reminds us that we don’t need to wait for the perfect timing to love people. “Simply put, we can stop waiting for a plan and just go love everybody.”
Another truth punched me in the solar plexus of my brain (sometimes, we need that kind of a jolt). I don’t need to pick and choose my neighbors. “He made a whole world of neighbors. We call it earth, but God just calls it a really big neighborhood.” The people I smile at, hold doors open for, and meet at the checkout line at the local Safeway—those people belong to my neighborhood. I confess that I don’t know any of them very well. Goff shows us how we can make life-long friends just three minutes at a time. I started this weekend when I finished the book.
I confess that I struggle with closet legalism. You may not suffer from this disease, but it looks like this. I smile and act pleasant around people, but inside my head my Judgy McJudgerton alter ego pops out with nasty observations. “Did you see how much makeup that woman has on? She looks like Tammy Faye Bakker did her makeup!” or “How can he call himself a Christian and guzzle beer like it’s soda?”
Goff has some great advice for me. “When we make ourselves the hall monitor of other people’s behavior, we risk having approval become more important than Jesus’ love.” Ouch. That’s me—the hall monitor of other people’s behavior (although in my head, never out loud). But if I think it, I act it, which means I’m not loving like Jesus would.
Lest I give away the whole book, you should probably just go out and buy your own copy. Although, really, it’s just a bunch of stories about Goff’s journey to become love. He tells his stories much better than I can. Suffice it to say, I highlighted half the book so I can go over passages again and again to remind me that even I, a closet legalist, can learn to love everybody always.