Let me first pose this question: As a Christian, knowing what we know about God's unconditional love for us and and the sacrifice that Jesus paid for us, shouldn't we in turn love others in that same way?
I've been so disheartened lately. The things I've heard said (or have said myself) about others, gossip, judging others, and negativity have made me reflect and realize how far we have gotten from God's command to show love to others (And by others I mean anyone. Regardless of beliefs. Whether they're friends or not. Whether they like you. Whether they hate you. If they've treated you with love. Or not. Anyone.)
"I Like Your Christ, I Do Not Like Your Christians"
Mahatma Ghandi once said, "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ." Ouch! Sadly, I understand what he means. My heart hurts when I hear these words because I know they are true. It bothers me so much to think that I am standing in the way of someone coming to know Jesus for who He is, because of my own selfish actions, my words, or my judgement. Looking back I can even see where I've pushed others away from God because of un-Christlike actions.
We All Fall Short
For us to judge anyone for mistakes, sins, shortcomings, etc; is nothing short of hypocritical. We all fall short, meaning none of us are perfect. We all make mistakes. We all sin. We all fall short. The Bible says this: Indeed, there is no one on earth who is righteous, no one who does what is right and never sins.
Ecclesiastes 7:19-21 .
Remember, Jesus died for EVERYONE, including sinners like you and me. He loves us for us. Not because we are perfect. And he loves everyone else for who they are too, not for what they have done and what they will do. The only difference between Christians and non-Christians is this: Christians believe in Jesus and the ultimate price He paid for our sins, and have received His grace. Non-Christians don't believe and haven't received His grace. Christians are not more perfect in ANY way than non-Christians. We have believed and received the sacrifice of Jesus. If we know this, then why can't we show this to others in love? If Jesus loved us that much, shouldn't we love others just the same?
The Perfect Example
We have the ultimate example laid out for us. Jesus. Jesus is the perfect picture of love. Let's think about this. How did Jesus react to the people that persecuted Him? He healed the soldier that arrested Him. (Luke 22:49-51) How did Jesus treat the sick and the lost? He spoke gently and lovingly to them. He restored them. (Luke 19:1-10, Luke 5:27-32) When they mocked Him as He was dying, He prayed for them! (Luke 23:34) This is the loving Savior that we serve.
Proof of Love
How will anyone really understand and know God's love if we can't be the example of that? How can we be the proof of His love? If we call ourselves Christians, and then go out and judge others, gossip about others, or speak harshly to others; what does that say to them about God? How can anyone see God's love shown in Christians, if Christians do not show unconditional love. I know how this sounds. And, no, I'm not judging. I get caught up in this rut time and again. If you have read 1 Corinthians 13:1-3, then I think you know where I'm going with this:
If I can speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy, but I don't love, I'm nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.
If I speak God's love with power, revealing all His mysteries, and make everything as plain as day, and if I say to a mountain Jump and it jumps, but I don't have love, I'm nothing.
If I give all I own to the poor or even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr but I don't have love, I've gotten nowhere.
So, no matter what we say, no matter what we believe, no matter what we do, we're bankrupt without love.
As I'm talking about the proof of God's love, I'm not talking about preaching at people. Surely there are times and places to share. But, what I'm talking about here is living it. Living God's love. Unconditional love, regardless of who they are. Now, that's God's love in action. That's Jesus' example.
What Does Scripture Say?
The word "love" is mentioned in the Bible 697 times! This should tell us something! Obviously there are several verses I could share with you here on love, but I will try to limit it to just a few.
This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. ~ 1 John 4:9-12
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you ~Matthew 5:43-44
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." ~John 13:34-35
As I wrap this up I want to challenge you. Where's your proof? How are you living the love of God to others?
PLEASE ENCOURAGE AUTHOR,
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Good line of thought. I can see your points. I do not think you have actually answered your initial question though. How does the Christian actually in turn love others in that same way? It is an easy question to struggle with because when a man gives his heart to Christ, he still goes about his work the same way until he is instructed differently. Love is not merely a matter of loving more, but learning how to love. That process involves learning to surrender to God's voice and instruction and trying to manage less of what they are or are not doing. Once you learn to let Christ re-teach you then you can learn how to actually love like Jesus.
I think you might like this site: http://ManagedSurrender.com. Jeff