The Stern Law of Love
How do we miss it? What causes us to overlook the obvious? The commandment to love one another is a serious assignment from God. A commandment that is emphasized again and again in Scripture. Jesus tells us that all of the commandments and the prophets are fulfilled in the laws of love: “Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, and all of your soul, and all of your mind and ---love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:37 and 39. There is no wiggle room in this commandment to love. Why do we try so hard to avoid this unavoidable law?
We start out so well trying to follow Jesus. We begin by loving everyone through Him. But when we follow our loving Lord and hold up Gods’ marvelous banner of love, how quickly we are attacked with temptations! A brother irritates us and a sister is rude. We are treated unfairly and even the church tries to scare us and arouse us against a leader or a group or a race. We Christians are supposed to be known by our love the Bible says. But sadly some churches have been labeled by their hate! So the temptations not to love come at us from all directions!
“Whoever is angry with his brother shall be in danger of judgment” the Lord stated. The words sound harsh. But Jesus is only being realistic. The poison of hate is dangerous. Anger tends to destroy the body and Jesus says that it is also dangerous for the soul. God created us to love one another. Love is a power – a fire – and there are consequences when we forsake the living fire of love and play with the deadly fires of dislike and hatred. But it is so easy to do!
So what can we do? First perhaps we can ask the Lord to help us – to increase our love – to give us His love for the people in our lives that we find so easy to dislike. Scripture tells us that we are children of light: but that light is given to us by our Lord. So let’s ask Him for more light and more love. God is standing before us with a gift for us in His hands:-the power to love our enemies. Let’s take this gift and thank Him.
We can also take the unkind words and acts of others as assignments from God, or spiritual exercises, in learning to love, instead of excuses to be angry. Each day you can try a new love experiment – a new exercise in loving the unlovely. Let’s lighten up and have fun with our new work. We can have fun practicing loving the critical relative or friend and forgiving them. With Christ we don’t have to be overcome with evil, but we can overcome evil with good.
We learn to love the people we previously disliked by trying to do it – by practice. To become a musician we need to practice difficult scales and pieces over and over. And to follow Jesus into His kingdom of love we need to practice loving and forgiving the difficult people in our lives again and again.
Un- love and judgments are in the air we breathe and all around us. We have been carefully taught to dislike and hate. It will require much practice to correct each old habit of dislike with a new habit of love. But Jesus will give us the power to do this if we ask. Let’s make this practice to love a fun adventure.
In her famous book, “The Healing Light” Agnes Sanford writes that when we pray for our enemy and forgive and bless them, we can picture that person in our minds as the marvelous person God created them to be. And then we can pray in faith that God will make them that way. Agnes Sanford reminds us that we are made in His image and likeness. Since God is first of all a Creator, then so are we. Through our prayers new blessings can be created.
She continues that when we pray blessings over our enemy we are like a gardener. As the prayer of forgiveness and blessing is poured out upon this person, often this former enemy comes to life as a parched plant comes to life when water is poured upon it. The forgiven one is often re-created by love. Mrs. Sanford insists that this forgiving and blessing in the Lords’ Name is a fun exercise – as we who try it can look with expectancy for the changes that the Lords’ blessing will accomplish in the one we are praying for.
You can read the Bible from cover to cover and still find no excuses anywhere to let yourself off of the hook from loving those you’d rather not love. The Lord has given us a stern law of love. He has asked us to follow Him and His example –to be crucified with Him and to live victoriously in Him. And that means to love one another. No excuses. Let’s get going.