Jesus said in Luke 6:27, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.” Some people have family members who hate them. They despise them and offer no love or care to them. They cannot trust them and they do not even care to be around them. Some people have been hurt so deeply by a parent or a family member that they may even feel apathy or hate towards them.
There might be Christians in your life from your past that bring up feelings of hurt, anger and disgust. I have no family members that I feel hate toward, but in 20 years there have been several Christians that have provoked those feelings in my heart. I have worked hard to heal those feelings.
When we fail to love, we fail to reveal the loving mercy and character of God. We feel love in our heart or affection for someone but that love comes out of us in our words, our actions, and our attitudes. The first place we are to practice this love is in our homes and in our church family. Darrel Bock writes, “The mouth is the litmus test of who we are spiritually. If we really evaluated our character and tone of our daily speech, would it register like acid on litmus paper or yield the sweet presence of a person secure in God’s care?”
Most Christians think they are loving. It is easy to say and to do loving things to loving people. It does not take God or the Holy Spirit to do that. Anyone can love someone who loves them. As Christians we are to be the lovers of people. We are to love people who hate us people who are not like us, people who have different values and opinions than we do. C.H. Spurgeon puts it this way about love: “Faith goes up the stairs that love has built and looks out the windows that hope has opened.”
The first people Christians are to love are other believers. Jesus prayed before he went to the cross that believers would love each other. People will know we are followers of Jesus because of our love for each other.
The apostle John writes 1 John 3:11-17, “This is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another ... do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you ... We have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers ... By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. If anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”
You cannot love like God empowers you to love when you do not hang around Christians. Getting around Christians is supposed to help you to love as God loves. C.S. Lewis says about God’s love, “You have not chosen one another, but I have chosen you for one another.” There are Christians who are not enjoyable to be around. There are some believers whom others are shocked to find out they are Christians. Do we want to be known as someone who does not love people? To love with Kingdom love you need the power of God living within you.
Ben Fleming is the pastor of Silver Hills Community Church.