Tuesday, February 5, 2013

1 John 4:11-17

Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be th Saviour of the world. Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God. And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.

At times, loving takes work. Jesus makes this very clear in Matthew 5. He presented a common misconception of many of the religious crowd of the day, and even a misconception that pervades the minds of many Christians today. People read the command of Leviticus 19:18 where the text says “love your neighbor,” and they would conclude that their neighbor was the guy who was their close friend or family member. They went even further and read it, “Love only your neighbor, and hate your enemy.” Their affirmative misunderstanding of the Law of God created a negative anti-biblical reasoning. Jesus came and taught that all men are your neighbor…especially those you don’t like. He says in Matthew 5:44, “I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you:” That is tough.
I have heard many take this text and joke, “you have to love ‘em, but you don’t have to like ‘em.” This just isn’t sound biblically. Scripture proves that this is diametrically opposed to the love which God has shown to His enemies. When you read John 3, you will see a God who “loved the world.” The inhabitants of this world according to  Romans 5 and Colossians 1 were His enemies. Christ came to the enemies of the Father and sacrificed Himself so that all of the enemies could be reconciled to God. This doesn’t come across as the shallow “love ‘em but don’t like ‘em” rhetoric. This was a life-giving love for those who hated Him.  May the love of God astound us and challenge us to step away from our towers of self-righteousness and reach out to those we disagree with.  May we find common ground whereupon to offer love. May we engage in a battle against our own self-preference and self-preoccupation, and may we become bastions of true, God-honoring love for others. So how do we love? Look for opportunities to love. What do they look like? Anything different than you. In every instance you find someone who is different, you find an opportunity for the love of God to gush from you onto them. 
Food For Thought: List some people or types of people that you could love according to the love of God. Now, go love them.