Love – or Sit Down and Shut Up!

14 04 2013

In the middle of 1 John 4, where we are being exhorted to love one another, there’s a statement that seems to be out of place. It says, “No one has seen God at any time.” This really stood out to me as I read it yesterday. It begged the question: “now, why is that statement here?”

As I meditated on these verses, it became clear that we are to love God, Jesus, and one another. God is not visible to us. Jesus is no longer visible to us, having ascended into heaven long before any of us were alive. One of the purposes of Jesus was to give us a clear picture of God. In John 14:9 we read, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father.”

Jesus ascended to the Father, and we were each given His Holy Spirit to live in us. One of the reasons we remain on earth after our salvation is so that we can be, as Jesus was, an example of the Father to the world. We are meant to be His hands, His feet, and His mouth. We are to be functioning as His body to everyone around us.

This is convicting as I consider how often I pick and choose who “deserves” to be loved by me, and who does not. He loves them all. If I am His body, then who am I to judge the worthiness of another?

It occurs to me that if we Christians were to take this assignment a lot more seriously, we would be drawing people to our Lord instead of repelling them. We have become just so much noise as we champion for our rights and try to get the world to validate our beliefs.

First Corinthians 13 addresses this very issue. It states,” Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.”

I can speak eloquently, succinctly, accurately, and with great knowledge and wisdom. If I do this without a heart of love, though, I am just another loud person who is demanding to be heard. To the world, I am nothing. I have nothing to offer, and they would prefer that I sit down and shut up.

The truth is that people won’t care how much I know until they know how much I care. If my sole concern is that of obtaining their validation for what I believe, then I will have missed my assignment of loving them as God loves me. Their opinions of my beliefs do not alter the truth of Whom I believe. It is a challenge to remember that my battle is not with flesh-and-blood people; it is with principalities and powers. The person with whom I am speaking has been blinded and needs my prayer, not my disdain. Lord, help me remember this.

If it weren’t for Jesus, I would not have had a very clear picture of what God was like. Can others say of me, “If it weren’t for you, I would never have known what Jesus is like?”

Lord, help me to be love to others. Make me as accurate an example of You as is possible while I remain on earth. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

(This is a re-post of an article I wrote in 2009)

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