“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”John 13:34-35
It has been jokingly said that the ministry would be great if it were not for people. I have met people in my life who were not the most encouraging to be around. Some voiced their concern about things I said, and some did not like things I did. It does not take long for the “boo birds” to come out of the woodwork and voice their displeasure about something you have done, are doing, or plan to do. I do believe some of these people are trying to be helpful, but it is hard to see that alongside the displeasure they are sharing. I do not look forward to seeing these people and certainly do not look for opportunities to spend time with them, but they are still people God has commanded me to love.
Our church is large for me, and while I know who most of the people are, I don’t personally know everyone. As in other groups and organizations, there are some who are easier to love than others, and I gravitate to some more than others. There are some who make me cringe, and I know these are the ones God has allowed in my life so that I may learn to love them. The ones I sometimes try to avoid are the very ones He has commanded me to love. I am sure there are some who cringe when they see me, and they may walk in the opposite direction when I get near. I try not to make enemies of anyone, especially with those in the church, but there are some who are like nails on a chalkboard. I know this is not how it should be as we have been commanded to love one another, which includes even those I may not like.
I had a goal last year of working on my heart toward those I referred to as my “red button people” – those who when they called me, I would immediately press the red button and send their call to my voicemail. I had three on my list who I did not particularly like, and I would roll my eyes as soon as their number appeared on my phone. I asked God to work in my heart as I have been called to love my brothers and sisters in Christ. If we cannot have unity in the body of Christ, how can we expect to attract a lost world? If we speak ill of our brothers and sisters in Christ to those in a lost world, how can we expect to see them come to Christ? I have a long way to go in watching how I speak about my brothers and sisters, and a long way to go in obeying the command of loving one another. God has given me victory with most of my “red button people” as He reveals His unconditional love to me even when I am not lovable.
May we never forget our unlovable condition without Christ, and may we show the love of God to all that we meet. God is love and there is no true love outside of Him. Will you love those who rub you the wrong way? Will you show others the love God has shown you? Will you obey the great commandment you have been given? May we ask for God’s help in loving those we struggle to love, and may we never forget the love He had for us as He stretched out His arms in love for us. God is love and may that love be expressed in how we love others, especially our brothers and sisters in Christ.