Love is Challenging
I John 2:7-11 says, "Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning. Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth. He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now. He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him. But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes.”
What is Love?
One day I was sitting at work, and I was having a conversation with one of my coworkers about the dangers of other religions. Another coworker walked up, listened in on our conversation, and said, “It’s not our place to judge other people’s faith.” This would have been a common word to hear from a person who did not know Christ, but this man professes Christianity.
Knowing that he was a father, and that this application would hit right at home, I asked, “If you your son wanted to hang out with a group of people who you knew to be murderers and thieves, would you not say something? Wouldn’t you warn him of the dangers of keeping company with a group of people like that?” He answered, “Well of course I would!”
Likewise, God is our Father, and He cares very much for our souls. His love for me will be painful at times, but it is necessary to protect my heart from the cares of this world. Love is not always accepting, sometimes love has to reject some things to protect the object of its affection.
The love of God is sacrificial by nature and requires nothing in return from the object of its affection. God loved us while we were yet sinners and still died on our behalf knowing that we may never accept the benefits of His love. This love is what you and I are called to. To love the people in this world to the point that we would sacrifice our lives to express how much it is that God loves them. We lay our lives down to the point that people may very well hate us because we stand against the sin of this world, the spirit of the world, and the powers of this world. Love is not always sweet and affectionate; love demands everything that we are.
Can you be saved and not love your brother?
According to John, if you hate your brother then you are in darkness. Having hate toward your brother may not always look the way that we think hate looks. We are mistaken if we think that hate will always appear obviously opposed to the object of its hatred. In fact, true hatred can even appear as light and seem acceptable as love—a pseudo-love. Hate simply means that you have no care for the outcome of a person’s life. If I hate you, I will not try to protect you; I will not try to guard your faith from the powers of darkness or the spirit of this world. If I hate you, I do not care where you spend eternity. If I hate you, I will use you to get out of you what I want and then leave you on the side of the road. Hate can look like love, and darkness can look like light, but the light of God exposes and deals with sin. According to John if you hate your brother, you are not in the light.
The love of God is in the Light of God
If you are in the light, the love of God is perfected in you. If you love Him, then you keep His commandments. If you are keeping His commandments, then you are dealing with sin. If I love a person, I will tell that person the truth no matter what the outcome might be for me. Love is not quiet; love is not dishonest; love does not accept everything. Love challenges us to walk in the Light of Christ.
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