By Gena Anderson
If you missed the last two blogs in this series, you might go back and review what I was pissed off about and how we can go from pissed off to peace. Now that I’ve taken hold of peace and made it a priority in my life, I am ready to tackle the topic of love.
As I was preparing to write this blog I attended a conference during which one of the speakers addressed how we go about loving the God who loves us. In fact, the conference theme was “Pursuing Christ Together in Love.” Funny how he delivers the words you need at the right time.
What I was reminded of was how many times in the Word obedience is referred to as a demonstration of the love of God.
If you love me, you will keep my commands, John 14:15, CSB.
The one who has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me, John 14:21, CSB.
For this is what love for God is: to keep his commands, John 5:3, CSB.
The first two verses were spoken by Jesus, and the third is more supporting evidence of God’s desire for us to show love for him through doing what he asks us to do. And what is it that he asks? Well, there are those top ten commands he gave us in Exodus 20, but I think we will simply address the cliff notes version. In Matthew 22 Jesus is asked what the greatest command is and his answer is that we should love God with our entire heart, soul, and mind, and he even gives a bonus by telling us the second greatest is to love our neighbor as ourselves.
Jesus’ answer gives us a general sense of the importance of loving God, which we now know is demonstrated through obedience. He also gave us specific ways he expects us to be obedient in that second bonus answer. I don’t know about you, but I have no hesitation in declaring my love for God, but if the way I show it is by loving others there might be a few issues.
First, I don’t really like everyone. I mean, of course I’m not talking about you, I really like you. But, that coworker that seems to intentionally try to sabotage me, or the neighbor that is always in my business, I have a hard time loving on. Second, when I’ve tried to be loving toward people it is often unappreciated or even resented. Sometimes it’s hard to keep loving others when it seems nobody is loving me in return. I am hoping somebody can relate to the challenges with loving neighbors that perhaps we don’t even like, or showing love toward people who don’t want or accept it.
The problem with those issues is that we all need and want love, and we all have the ability to give love because we were created by the God of love. If too many of us withhold that love and disobey God’s commands to love one another then the world becomes a very unloving place. So, we’ve got a choice to make: be an obedient lover or a disobedient hater. If we choose not to follow God’s commands we are choosing not to show love to the one who loved us so much he died for us. It’s one of those things where we are either part of the solution or part of the problem.
Matthew 5:44 says we should love our enemies and pray for those who attack us. Sounds like a great first step toward love. Romans 15:7 says to accept one another, which is a lot more loving and rejecting, ignoring, or judging. Basically, the message I am getting is that God is fully aware of the hate in our world (and our own hearts) and he is commanding us to do our part to bring love, his love, front and center.
What is God commanding you to do? Who is he beckoning you to love as a demonstration of your love for him? I hope and pray I am able to go, in peace, and share the love he has given me with those around me. I’ll start by praying for those who are hardest to love, and trust God will lead me to the next step. And I hope my brothers and sisters will do the same. And I have a feeling this will open up the flood gates to make room for joy, the final topic in this series.