Some people say that loving one another is the greatest of great commandments, the Golden Rule.
But how often do we actually do that?
How do we practice this?
I can’t even express how teeth-grinding it is for me to see hatred and bigotry portrayed and justified by using biblical texts. It makes me crazy. These hateful people declaring their hatred in the name of God is the example of Christianity they give to the world.
And we wonder why people hate Christians.
Guys, this loving your neighbor theme is serious. The Bible says if we truly love God we will love our brother also ( 1 John 4:21).
My understanding is that if I don’t love my neighbor, I don’t truly love God.
We need to extend that love to everyone—including the people we don’t like.
For me, that means including those “Christians” who spew Bible verses in order to justify their racism. And the people who say awful things about my religious group. And the friends who say (indirectly) that I’m stupid for believing in God and not in “science.”
How do we develop that love? How often do we put ourselves last and other first?
Let’s all try to develop that kind of love this week, that Christ-like love God wants us all to have.
I’ve often asked myself this question. It’s a legitimate concern for me because I love music and I love going to shows. I love the feeling music alone gives me, and the power of performances is like nothing else.
So in light of what happened at a concert in Manchester recently, the question popped up again: If I died at a concert, would I go to heaven?
(*Note: I’m not at all giving any kind of judgment to any of those people who lost their lives at that concert in Manchester. My heart aches when tragedies like these occur. I don’t know their lives nor their hearts, and I’m not here to sentence anyone—that’s not my job.)
I’ve gone to countless shows. I’ve even seen one band nearly 20 times alone.
Here’s the thing though.
Within the last maybe year or so, I’ve really felt my concert-going days would soon be over for me. I felt God was calling me to set my mind on things above, and going to shows was something I had to let go of. If I’m honest (though through gritted teeth), I think it’s a pretty clear conviction for me.
Though yes, I’ve tried to ignore it. There are many, many concerts I want to go to this year. If I go to one of these concerts and end up dying, what does that mean for me? Where will I end up? Would my Christian life up to that point not matter? Did I just damn myself by that one decision, that one choice to go?
Is it dangerous to do something we know we shouldn’t be doing? Where do justice, grace, and mercy come into play?
Does ignoring our convictions and rationalizing them away end up leading us to an inevitable path of destruction?
Okaaaay so I said in my last post that I didn’t want to write posts that are too detailed or write them just for the sake of blabbering about myself and my problems, but here I am already about to cross my own boundaries.
But this story is just too appropriate, and writing IS my therapy anyway. There, I’m justified. Haha.
Seriously though, I’ll start it off like this: Do you ever deal with people who say they are one thing but in actuality, they are quite different? Do you deal with people who say they behave a certain way but they really do not behave that way at all?
Well, I always hope that I am not like that, talking about how we should be one way and then I totally act the opposite.
Except I did that today.
Ugh. Major. Face. Palm.
I acted the opposite of how I tell and what I expect others to be. I totally missed an opportunity to be nice to a person even though she was totally rude to me. I totally missed giving them “a cup of cold water,” as I tell the students in my class to do. I totally missed being the best person I could be: being nice (and not rude) even when the person is not nice in return.
I just really hate when people are rude. Who doesn’t? It just sends this fire raging through my bones and it’s almost impossible to quench.
But I think I’m so used to getting the kind of reactions I want and expect, that I totally lose it when I don’t. That’s another issue that’s worth digging into.
So in short, my reactions to rude people are a problem that needs fixing. I make mistakes and miss opportunities. I will never claim to be the gold standard. My posts are as much for me as they are for my readers. I wish I could’ve handled the encounter better, but now I learned from it.
Last post I briefly glossed over the question of what it means to truly love your neighbor as yourself.
I want to talk about that a little more because whether it be in my reading for the day or on the radio, love for one another seems to be a theme that keeps popping up.
What is love for one another?
The Bible says in John 15: 12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”
“These things I command you, that you love one another.” John 15:17
John 13: 34 says “A new commandment I give you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”
Matthew 22 has Christ’s response to the question of “What is the greatest commandment?” as this: Love God and love your neighbor.
So if we Christians think that love is the greatest commandment of all, how do we show it?
And to whom? Does this love only apply to the people we, well, love?
I believe the principle in Titus 3: 1-2 (the verse that is the feature image for this post) is this: as Christ’s followers, we are to develop these types of qualities.
I’m not going to say that because we’re not immediately nice to people who wrong us or we don’t go to church every weekend like we should mean we don’t have a love for God or our fellow man. We are sinful humans after all.
But really, though, if we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us, shouldn’t we aim to develop the kind of love that treats others with respect and goes to worship God in His house on His day?
The kind of love that serves others even when we don’t feel like it or even though that neighbor is incredibly nasty and hocks loogies outside your window every morning?
The kind of love that obeys God, goes to church even if we can’t stand a certain church member, and abstains from willfully sinning?
Isn’t that what faith is all about, trusting that God will help you through what seems impossible?
As Titus puts it, show humility to all men.
Now I know what oppositions could come up. Like, how can I be nice to someone who raped me? or abused my child?
I cannot give direct answers to those questions. All I know is God can make what seems impossible possible.
Abiding in Christ means a constant receiving of His Spirit, a life of unreserved surrender to His service. The channel of communication must be open continually between man and his God. As the vine branch constantly draws the sap from the living vine, so are we to cling to Jesus and receive from Him by faith the strength and perfection of His own character.
The Desire of Ages, 676
John 13:35 says “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
I’ve been tempted to think that because someone acts a certain way towards another person or thinks a certain mean thought about them, he/she really doesn’t love that person. But I don’t know if I believe that anymore. I think our moments of weakness and plain old humanity get the better of us, and we lose our grip.
Love to man is the earthward manifestation of the love of God. It was to implant this love, to make us children of one family, that the King of glory become one with us. And when His parting words are fulfilled, ‘Love one another, as I have loved you,’ (John 15:12); when we love the world as He has loved it, then for us His mission is accomplished. We are fitted for heaven; for we have heaven in our hearts.
Many who profess His name have lost sight of the fact that Christians are to represent Christ. Unless there is practical self-sacrifice for the good of others, in the family circle, in the neighborhood, in the church, and wherever we may be, then whatever our profession, we are not Christians.
The Desire of Ages, 641 and 504
I think we could all do more of serving others and truly trying to understand what it means to love one another.