I’ll start off by making a couple disclaimers:
1. I am in no way saying we shouldn’t love others with the love Christ first showed us.
2. We should always put on love; to others, our enemies, to everyone we come in contact with.
3. Whether or not we agree or disagree with someone does not mean we should love them any less.
Everyone loves to pick the good parts out of the Bible. I’m sure I do it myself sometimes. Many Christians can recite what Philippians 4:13 says, or Jeremiah 29:11, John 3:16, etc. It’s important when reading Scripture we don’t take anything out of context or choose one verse out of a chapter we like and forget about the rest of the chapter. The other verses in the chapter might have something that irons out the true meaning of the verse and gives you a different picture of what the verse really means. Let’s get to it.
“Love” is a topic in the Bible that it’s not hard for people to grasp hold of. We know what the Beatitudes say about love in Matthew 5:44-“But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.” Another book that talks about the love of Christ is John’s First Epistle. Looking at 1 John 4:8-“He who does not love does not know God, for God is love,” and 1 John 4:12-“…if we love one another, God abides in us,” ending with 1 John 4:19-“We love him because He first loved us.” It’s without question-Christ loved us and gave his life for us, and we are called to act no differently. Moving to John 15, as the title “Love and Joy Perfected” suggests, we look at the relationship between the Father and the Son as it relates to the Son and us. John 15:9,12-“As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in my love. This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”
Now skip to the next section, titled “The World’s Hatred.” Weird how that played out, huh? A section of joy and love followed by a section of the world’s hatred for Jesus. Let’s read the whole thing. John 15:18-25 “If the world hates you, you know that it hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecute Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. He who hates Me hates my Father also. If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would have no sin; but now they have seen and also hated both Me and My Father. But this happened that the word might be fulfilled which is written in their law, ‘They hated Me without a cause.'”
Christians nowadays are so thrown off by the passages of the love of God, we forget this life is a battle. There are clear distinctions between Christians and the world. John 17:16-17 says, as Jesus is praying for the Disciples, “They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.” In John 18:36, Jesus says, “My kingdom is not of this world.” I think we forget that, YES, we need to do everything we do out of love, we are fighting for lives here. Ephesians 6:12-“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age.” We need to fight the darkness of this world WITH love. If we love non-believers but do not preach the Gospel to them, what are we really doing? Yes, the power of the love of Christ is compelling, but I think there’s something more that’s been missed in the church today. If Jesus is not of this world, and we are not of this world, we are called to question the things of this world and fight for what we believe in. Say you have a friend that has been stuck in a serious sin for a couple months; you obviously need to speak love to them, but are you going to speak love to them without confronting them of their sin, without letting them know what they’re doing is wrong? I would hope not. If we’re loving people unconditionally without standing up for what we believe in and letting people know our beliefs and where we draw the line, we’re doing it wrong. One of my favorite authors, Mark Batterson, says this-“Why is it that the church is known more for what we’re against than what we’re for?” I’m tired of preachers going through sermons without trying to step on any toes. As Christians, we KNOW we don’t agree with many of the things happening in the world today. You can’t water down the Gospel. You can’t believe two things with completely different meanings. See what I’m saying? The Bible is referred to as a sword, and we are called to put on the full Armor of God, right?
We should do everything out of love, as Jesus tells us to. However, we can’t get too caught up in the gooey and soft text of the Bible that we forget we are not of this world and we disagree with the things of this world. Stand up for what you believe in. Where Christ is being persecuted, be a light in the darkness. Let others know your beliefs, but do everything IN love.