John 13:34-35 – “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
I heard a woman talking on her cell phone the other day at a store. She was very agitated and loud. She suddenly shouted into the phone, “…yeah, well I hate you…” and she hung up the phone. I left out a few expletives in there but you get the idea. The funny thing was that apart from me, no one batted an eye.
When my kids were growing up I refused to allow them to even say that in my presence. “Hate” sows the seeds of bitterness, anger, and murder. It is a horrible word to use. I also wouldn’t let them say, “I’m gonna kill you” or “that’s not fair.” These words do not reflect the love of God or the gratitude we should have for the blessings he sends our way.
The world expects us to act certain ways in given situations. I remember a parent telling his son that if someone hits you then it is okay to fight them just as long as you don’t start the fight. There are two problems with this logic. The first is that it doesn’t jive with what Jesus said in the sermon on the mount that if someone strikes you on the right cheek turn to them the left cheek also and the golden rule: treat others the way you want to be treated. Second, all it does is promote the idea of antagonism by allowing that child to keep egging on the other child to hit him so that he is justified in fighting.
The world expects you to return insult with insult. The world expects you to only love those people that love you first. The world expects you to strike back or to strike first before the other person has a chance. And when we reply with hate and violence we fit right into what the world expects of us.
But Christ has called us to be something different. He is telling us to love the unlovable. He is telling us to pray for those who hate us and give us grief. He not only tells us to do it but he modeled it. He went to the cross to show us that God loves us… even though we are dirty, rotten sinners. He was willing to humbly and meekly serve others and love others. Why else would he heal the ear of one of the men who came to take him away? That’s not what the world would expect.
You see, when we respond with kindness, compassion, forgiveness, and love we demonstrate to the world something greater than it has ever seen. We show it a better way… God’s way. We become a reflection of God’s glory in a dark and lost world that is filled with hatred and sin. We become evangelist with our love. The world sees God when it sees us loving and forgiving others.
Be a light! Love one another.
Dear Heavenly Father, I praise you for your love and the ultimate sacrifice of your son, Jesus. Help me, Lord, not to respond to the darkness of this world with hate and violence but with love and forgiveness. You are my Lord, my light, and my salvation. I lift up to you this prayer in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.