From the Word
“Love on another as I have loved you.” John 15:12
Amidst our ever-changing world, there are things that are constant. Among those are love and hatred. These can be misrepresented, as they are today. Many among us refer to we Christians’ proclaiming Law and Gospel as hate, which it clearly is not. Misuse, or misunderstanding, does not negate the reality of love and hate as they exist and are expressed.
Is there any positive aspect of hate? We are called to hate the sin but love the sinner. But for the most part, we correctly associate hatred as being something directed by people toward other people. Such hatred has no place among us.
The word “love” has so many different definitions that it is often hard to determine what others are referring to. But we must always be clear what we are referring to. Love has been defined for us by Jesus’ life, suffering, death and resurrection. Love is defined in us, not by our feelings, but by what we have seen in Jesus. Love is not primarily an emotion, but is action taken toward those we love.
Many Christians, and non-Christians, assume that our calling is found in Leviticus 19:18, “love your neighbor as yourself.” Many are surprised to discover that those words express the bare minimum God’s Law expects of us in relation to others. Our calling is found in Jesus’ words in John 15, “love one another as I have loved you, greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”
Where hatred is selfish, love is selfless. Where hatred expects things that others seemingly have failed to deliver, love gives and contributes. Where hatred is self-gratifying, love is sacrificial, as we have seen in love defined on the cross. Love does what is difficult, because that brings the greatest benefit to those it is given to. Hatred tears down and destroys, love builds and blesses. Hatred becomes a burden on our necks and our hearts. Love frees and is freely given. Of the many blessings God gives us, love is the most lasting. Faith and grace will fade away in heaven because they will not longer be needed. Love will endure forever.