Pete Enns writes about what he believes is the most frightening verse in the Bible. His post is well worth reading. His verse should be frightening.
He cites 1 John 4:7-8:
Loved ones, let’s love one another, for love is from God. Everyone who loves has been born from God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.1 John 4:7-8 (my translation)
People often deride “love preachers,” because the message of love is regarded as weak. And there are love preachers whose love is actually weak. But divine love is a very difficult topic, because divine love leads to giving of oneself for others. If that’s easy, you’re probably not doing it right.
Here’s the hard part for me: Loving the person who doesn’t seem to believe in love.
- The religious person
- The judgmental person
- The hateful person
- The purposefully ignorant person
- The shallow person
- The person who thinks my love preaching is weak!
In preaching that we need to love people who are addicted to some substance, or are homeless, are poor, or in some way different (faith, race, nationality, sexuality, etc) it is easy to break into condemnation of those who don’t agree and will not join me in loving my people list.
The people I list need our love as much as, or more than, the others. We do not expect condemnation to help people who are struggling with addiction, for example. Indeed, I don’t believe condemnation helps at all. I have to remember my many imperfections and realize that I also am not helped by condemnation.
The challenge, I think, is to love those who hate, to treat respectfully those who are disrespectful. As Jesus said, “Love your enemies.” I suspect it might be a good strategy.
(Featured image credit: Openclipart.org)