Love heals, love creates the desire to hear and see. Love opens the heart, dissolves fear and distrust. Love opens doors, creates pathways, softens downcast mouths, releases fists. How else will we let those around us know that we are the true followers of Jesus?
John 13:34-35 So I give you a new command: Love each other deeply and fully. Remember the ways that I have loved you, and demonstrate your love for others in those same ways. Everyone will know you as My followers if you demonstrate your love to others.
John 14:15 If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.
Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. (John 15:13-15)
Love conquers fear and hate, solid walls of separation and centuries old dug-in-heels of they-are-evil and we-are-righteous thinking.
Love allows embraces, possibilities and “aha!” moments. Love is responsible for transformation, seismic shifts in understanding, the willingness to explore common ground.
Eugene Peterson renders Jesus’ call to love our enemies so even the most hardened hearts can understand it:
“You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.
“In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.” (Matthew 5:44-48, The Message)
You see, if we don’t believe or subscribe to Jesus’ commands to love, then we won’t choose Love. It’s as simple as that. We’ll hang onto our immature choice to love who we want to love, not who He tells us to love. We’ll love with strings attached, yanking it away when people in our family, circle of friends or church don’t meet our expectations.
This is not the way Jesus tells us to love. Jesus tells us to love compassionately. Deeply. Sincerely. Unfailingly. Unconditionally.
Above all things, have unfailing love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8)
By this the love of God is revealed in us: that God has sent his one and only Son into the world so that we may live through him. Dear friends, if God so loved us, then we also ought to love one another. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. We love, because He first loved us. (1 John 4:9,11,16,19)