In this day and age, it’s very easy to stop loving other people. Just look around, and you’ll see a great many people looking out for themselves, lost in a cycle of work and entertainment. Most people couldn’t care less about their neighbor two doors down, the homeless person on the street corner or the hitchhiker on the highway. Even as Christians, we get caught up in the daily grind, focusing on our own small group of family and friends.
Everyone seems to know that we all should reach out and help others, but most of the time we don’t do it. Most of the time, when we start to feel convicted about it, we’ll give a little bit of money to make us feel better. We’ll give a little something to charity, put a few dollars extra in the church offering. Politicians want to raise taxes to help the poor. Sometimes, we’ll even volunteer somewhere for an afternoon. These things are all great, I suppose, but they miss the point.
What is the point? Look to the words of Jesus: “Whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.” That means, every single time you pass by on the other side of a person hurting, you deny Jesus. Every time, every chance, every opportunity we get: we must use them to love. Love is a choice that we each have have to make personally, every moment of our lives. No government program or community can drive can rid you of that responsibility. We must pour out our lives for the sake of others. It sounds a bit daunting, but just try following the Holy Spirit, and I’m sure the load will not be too much.
Here’s another one: “Love your enemies.” Wow. How can we do that? The world, and this American culture, likes to tell us all about this “good versus evil” thing. Look at all the crime television shows: we like knowing that we are “good” and other people are “evil.” And even if we have a little bad side, we’re not as bad as “those people.” Democracy is good, and communism is evil. You are good, and a rapist is evil. Our military is good, and terrorists are evil. This is just not true. According to the Bible, we were all evil. The only way we can be redeemed is by the blood of Jesus Christ. And this salvation is not of ourselves. It is a gift from God, not by works, so that no one can boast.
Basically, this is the way I see it: I don’t even have the right to judge others, because I was no better. God, in His mercy, forgave me, and nothing I ever did deserved that. Now, I suppose we have the right to defend ourselves, so this isn’t some post against war; war has its place. What this is, is a post against hate. That murderer who killed your father? Forgive him. That jerk who stole your job? Forgive him. The man who stole your heart and then threw it in the garbage? Forgive him. The terrorist organizations across the world who would love to see you dead? Love them, for they are not your enemy. Our enemy is not made of flesh and blood. Our enemies are the spiritual forces of evil, aka the devil and his demons. If you have time, read Acts chapter 7. It is the story of the first martyr, Stephen. Think about this as you read it: Even as those men were throwing stones at him to kill him, he loved them.
This all sounds crazy, right? It’s because the world doesn’t work this way, and lies have been forced into our heads: love some and hate others. But God is love. How can we start to think right? As the Bible says, “renew your mind.” That’s all we can do. Trust God; meditate on His Word. Allow the Holy Spirit to speak to you. Learn to love. Here’s a couple verses in closing:
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” -James 1:27
“This is real love – not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.” -1 John 4:10