Saturday, August 17, 2013
Paul expands upon Jesus’ words from Matthew 22:39:
Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. (Romans 13:8-9 KJV)
For Christians concerned whether or not we are saved by grace or by fulfilling the law, this should answer that question. We cannot love all of our neighbors, therefore we cannot fulfill the law.
Disagree with me? Then convince me that every one in your eyesight every hour of every day is loved.
I could write scenario after scenario of examples of unlovable people. Some would be family members, blood kin or in-laws – or ex-in-laws – where there is no love lost. Good reasons may be cited for those feelings of animosity, pain and hardened hearts, but neither Jesus nor Paul gave us that out. “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”
Oh, there is plenty of self-loathing around, but we do love ourselves enough to see that we are fed, don’t we? Self respect has been of utmost importance in America for the past few decades, though teaching love of our neighbor has slackened a bit. Instead, we’ve been taught to take to the street in protests if we have not received what we expect.
It is fairly easy to hear of needs elsewhere and respond with a prayer or a contribution. Earthquakes in the Pacific, in Haiti, even in Iran bring thoughts of assistance and an open pocket book in aid. Starving children in distant countries bring a similar response. Christians being persecuted, churches burned, pastors incarcerated – prayers flow and pressure is applied for governmental assistance.
What about the surly attitude behind the counter as we make our purchase? Love that clerk? Are we able to feel Christ’s love for that person, returning an eye-contact smile with a sincere “Bless you,” instead of averting our eyes and praying for a quick departure?
Can we make a commitment to go through a specified period of time – even one day - loving every person? A whole day? Think for a moment where that would take you. Can I love that young trainee who has not yet learned to put a patient at ease? The nurse that is determined to take blood out of that vein that though another method had been suggested? These are the people we are to love.
Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: (1 Peter 1:22 KJV)
Jesus, Paul and Peter – their message is the same, and we just haven’t convinced ourselves they meant what they said – what God inspired. Through God’s saving grace we are able to love those who are not lovable and do not love us back. Christ lived, loved and died for them – and for us.