If you are a certain age (or like oldies music), you’ll know the song, “All We Need is Love.” It sounds so good when the Beetles croon, “All we need is love, love, love is all we need.”
And loving everyone sounds like such a great thing – in theory. In reality, it’s not quite that simple because people are, well, human. Add to that our own humanness, and suddenly loving people isn’t all fluffy clouds and rainbows and unicorns.
In fact, loving others can be one of the hardest commands God has ever given us – especially when we’ve been hurt or betrayed by those we are supposed to love. It’s particularly painful when the hurt comes from those who are supposed to have your back. No betrayal cuts quite as deep as the betrayal from the person you trusted the most.
I don’t think that this is a particularly new problem though. Over and over in Scripture, the early church is exhorted to love each other, to forgive each other, to offer grace to each other. I don’t think it would have been mentioned quite so much if those early Christians didn’t struggle with it, like we do.
Paul, the primary writer of the letters in the New Testament, tells us how crucial our love for each other is – because a lost world is watching. They are watching, looking for something they don’t have. Our love for each other is one way we show them who Jesus is.
I have to wonder, though, what message the unsaved world gets from the church if they are basing who Jesus is on by how we love each other.
Let’s face it, the church as a whole is divided, not just along denominational lines and racial lines, but also within individual church bodies, as well. And I think satan rubs his hands in glee to see all the disunity among the family of God because when we are busy fighting with each other, we aren’t fighting the true enemy. We lower our shields and let our swords drop by our sides, making us easy targets for an enemy the Bible describes as a lion who is seeking to devour us.
Instead of clinging to our right to be right, maybe we should start clinging to Jesus instead. We are focused on things that, really, in the light of eternity don’t even matter. Will we really care if we got invited to that party or if someone said something unkind about us when we are in Jesus’ very presence in heaven?
I’m not denying those things sting, but we have to keep the bigger picture in mind. And that bigger picture which is we are in a war. We can’t afford to turn on our fellow soldiers if we hope to come out in one piece.
I’m talking to myself just as much as the next person in this. It’s so easy to get caught up in the daily stuff I am living in. It’s all too easy to make a mountain range out of an ant hill. I get it. But know that this is what the enemy wants.
If he can turn us on each other, we do the work of devouring for him.
In Galatians 5:15, it says, “But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.”
That word consume means to use up or destroy. It sounds horrible, doesn’t it? Yet, how many times have you felt yourself being used up or destroyed by someone actions or words? How many times have you been the one doing the devouring and consuming?
I wish I could say that if you just get spiritual enough, that everything at your church and with the people there will be smooth sailing, that everyone will just love each other perfectly and never hurt each other, intentionally or unintentionally. But that’s not the truth and we know it.
But I do think we can make a choice to not be easily offended, to not look for insult and hurt where it wasn’t intended or let it go when it was. Often those things say so much more about the other person than you. I think we can make the choice to be mature in our relationships. If we have something that is truly bothering us, that we can’t let go – go to the person in love and get it straightened out. So many times, it’s a simple misunderstanding that honesty resolves.
Unfortunately, no matter our good intentions, the bad news is there is no way we can love each other as we are called to do. However, the good news is that we don’t have to do it in our own power.
Thankfully, God promises us that we are, “equipped for every good work.” I don’t know about you, but that is a big relief, to know I can lean on God to help me do the hard stuff – even loving the unlovable.
How about you? Do you struggle loving others? I’d love to hear about it!