Equipping Your Reimagine Journey
I fear the greatest reason for the hostility being expressed in politics, social media and nearly every area of society is the absence of love. We who know the Lord and believe the Bible can know something more complex about love than most people. There were several words for love in the original language of the New Testament. The one I want to focus on is agape, the word explained in 1 Corthians 13. This kind of love is not easy to produce in our lives, especially in these days. In Matthew 24:12 Jesus prophesied that the time will come when the love of many will grow cold because of the wickedness around us. There is an urgency in our time for God’s people to pray for God to work supernaturally to set our lives on fire with His love. Let me give you an idea of the characteristics of the love that we need to pray for God to produce in us.
Love your neighbor as yourself.
Jesus said the greatest commandment in the law was to love God with all our hearts. The second was to love our neighbor as ourselves. This was not a command, as some of us have said, to love ourselves. Loving ourselves is assumed in these words. And this cannot be a command to always like or feel good about others. I often don’t like myself. This is a command to treat others like we treat ourselves.
Love your enemy.
Let’s get right to the most difficult thing Jesus said about love. He told us to love our enemies. This again does not tell us to approve of the words or actions of our enemy. But we can pray for God to give grace to those we fear or whose behavior we hate? We need to struggle with this one. I think you may see most clearly here that the Love the Bible calls for demands that we humble ourselves and cry out for God to work in our hearts and minds.
Love is patient.
1 Corinthians 13 says a host of things about agape love. This kind of love is patient and kind. Are you kind to people you come in contact with? Are you patient with those closest to you at work or at home?
Love does not envy or boast.
Again, 1 Corinthians 13 says the kind of love God produces in us is not self centered. With it we will not focus on ourselves. We sometimes think being humble means continually admitting how lowly we are. That attitude is just as self focused as boasting. Love is so focused on others that we seldom notice ourselves.
Love is not arrogant or rude.
Have you called political figures that you dislike or fear by bitter or mean spirited names? Do you make or laugh at jokes that would hurt or embarrass others? Pray for God to change your attitudes to His love. Those people are made in the image of God. Mocking or speaking evil of them dishonors God.
Can you see the point of view of people you do not agree with? Are you working at it? Do you pray for it? Sometimes this is the key to persuading them. Even if it does not persuade, it is right. It is what God requires.
Love does not insist on its own way.
Love is willing to compromise. This is a foundation of our type of government. It is getting more and more difficult for this to be public policy. But we believe God can change people when we pray, when He is at work in their lives. We can allow others to be wrong on many issues that those who believe in forcing people to change cannot.
Love does not rejoice in wrongdoing or revenge.
Love does not rejoice in evil. Love knows, even when our minds cannot, that repaying wrong only increases evil in society.
Love is powerful.
1 Corinthians 13 begins with these words,
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Of course this largely speaks to our position before God. That is more serious than how effective we are in the eyes of people. But these words can also apply to our effectiveness in this world. It often seems that strong greed works better at being successful and strong hate is more effective in changing people than love. But that is only in the short term. In the long run love carries with it the power of God Himself. I want to pray for God to produce it in me, in us, even when we are overwhelmed by what is happening around us.
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