And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.
And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandments greater than these. (KJV, Mark 12:30-31)
I wish people came with instructions.
If you’ve lived just a few seconds on this earth, the idea of love is all consuming and overwhelming in its compassion and expression. But it can also be scary. We live in a day and age where the fears, mistakes, and the wars of words from the past continue to repeat themselves, all the time jockeying for the position of “right” in order to point the finger at who’s “wrong.”
There are the drastic representations of hate from beheadings to the indoctrination of child soldiers to take out entire villages. Then there are what we consider minor acts of emotional terrorism in the form of racism and rumor mongering. There seems to be a particular kind of hate for just about anything.
And yet Christ expects His followers to still express love in the mist of it all.
Jesus said WHAT?!
Why would He tell us to do that? Why would he give us Mark 12:30-31? Wasn’t verse 30 enough? I mean, loving God is easy. He’s sovereign. He’s our Creator. But to expect us to love someone who preys on the innocent (or even not so innocent) and attacks others because they are different seem a bit much. Like, for real? He wants us to do that?
If we believe Him, we believe His Word. If we believe His Word, we must follow Him. He says we are to love our neighbor. According to Christ, a neighbor is any other man irrespective of nation or religion with whom we live or whom we chance to meet.
Now loving doesn’t mean we turn our backs to injustice or unrighteousness; it means we confront them with God’s love and combat it with His Word. We can do this through the power of His might (Eph. 6:10). It seems an impossible task, but with God, all things are possible (Luke 1:37) and His Word is eternal (Matt. 24:35). Even when we face heartbreak and a sense of fracturing at the state of our world and our communities, we have been filled with His power to live and to love.
If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink.
For thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head, and the Lord shall reward thee. (Prov. 25:21-22)
So, in light of the past few years up into the past few days, chose love. Chose God’s kind of love. Speak His love. Be His love because, you know what? You might be the only love that person you loathe gets to see that day.
I’m not saying it’ll be easy.
That’s why it takes God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. He’s our arsenal. He’s the strongest weapon we have.