You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who mistreat you and persecute you, that you may be children of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Don’t even the tax collectors do the same? If you only greet your friends, what more do you do than others? Don’t even the tax collectors do the same? Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect. ~Matthew 5:43-48
I want to say first that the kind of love we’re talking about here is impossible by the hand of man; only that you are purified by the refiners fire is Jesus’ love possible in you. Therefore, this kind of love is not for someone who has no interest in sanctification, or who is repulsed by godliness and holiness. Neither is it fitting for cowards and those who refuse to count the cost of following Jesus Christ.
However, for anyone who is discontent with the bumper-sticker, Facebook-status, Sunday religion, and who hungers and thirsts for righteousness, the love of Christ is a perfect fit!
The love of Christ is real, sacrificial, gentle and lowly- it’s a neighbor loving, darkness confronting, mercy rejoicing, brother serving kind of love.
THE BEAUTY OF HOLINESS
My heart wells up with praise and worship for the God who made love “perfection“! This is the beauty of holiness; love is the highest gem in the crown of holiness. Preaching holiness without love is a self-contradiction.
This strikes a beautiful chord of worship in my heart when I think of God’s standard of perfection- and I hope it does in yours too! I hope we have not become past feeling and no longer capable of being moved by the love of Christ.
Whoever “loves his brother, abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him” (1st John 2:10), for it was for this very purpose that you were chosen “in Him before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love” (Ephesians 1:4).
A NEW COMMANDMENT
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. ~John 13:34-35
Christian’s are especially identified by the love we have one for another.
This is a familial, brotherly kind of love unique even to the sacrificial love by which we are compelled towards our neighbors. This is a shining testimony to the world around us that we are the children of God- and no other testimony is worthy for the Bride of Christ that was purchased by the blood of Christ!
It’s because of this love that I am able to travel to any country in the world and find family as loving to me as those from where I came from! And, indeed, this was the case when we moved to China and found Christian brothers and sisters who embraced us with immediate warmth and love that knit us together forever.
But the commandment is not just “love one another”; it is holier than that. The commandment is “Love one another as I have loved you”.
Jesus loved His disciples first and foremost by calling them into the name of God- and our presence in each other’s lives ought to be such that calls one another into greater and greater fellowship in the name of God! Likewise, Jesus served His disciples with a gentle and lowly heart, proactively caring for them in every way- spiritually and physically.
But Jesus never tolerated sin; to the harlot, for whom He stood as her sole defender against those who wanted to put her to death and end God’s precious gift of life to her, He commanded to “go and sin no more”! Yet in the Church today we are hard pressed to even find a preacher who will condemn sin, let alone go this far!
My exhortation to you, my brethren, is that you “find out what is acceptable” love to the Lord- to search out how He has loved us, and to diligently love one another as He has loved us!
May you go in grace, mercy, and peace as you walk in this new commandment! Amen!