“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:43-48)
Charlottesville is, from inception through tragedy to aftermath, only the latest in a long line of incidents revealing how conflicted and divided our nation has become. Phrases like “we, the people”, “one nation under God” and even “United States” no longer seem to describe us very well.
God’s Word warns us that those who engage in enmity, strife, dissensions and divisions will not experience the blessings of God’s Kingdom. (Galatians 5:19-21) Yet that is the only way the two political parties that control our government want to operate. And that is all we see on our television news shows, all we hear about on talk radio and all we read about on internet blogs, whether they are simply reporting or, more often, promoting and provoking controversy.
Who is responsible for this mess? Who has the ability to turn things around? The answer to both questions is the same: the Body of Christ.
The Body of Christ is responsible for America because our Lord Jesus Christ commanded us to disciple this nation. (Matthew 28:18-20) At the very heart of our assignment is the need to show forth the love of God to everyone He loves – and He loves everybody! (Matthew 5:43-45; 1 Peter 2:9; 1 John 4:8)
Approximately 80% of our nation’s population identify themselves as Christian. Politicians can’t get elected without Christian votes. Most shows can’t sustain the ratings to stay on the air without Christian viewers. Christianity is the largest “people group” in America, larger than “white”, “people of color”, “conservative”, “liberal”, or any other so-called special interest group. If we were doing our job together: if we were loving each other, loving our neighbor, loving the stranger in our path, and loving our enemies by blessing them and praying for them, then everything would marvelously change for the better.
Brothers and sisters, God loves the people you don’t love. For some of you, that means God loves the people you hate. For others, it means God loves the people you don’t care about, one way or the other.
God lives in each of us through the Holy Spirit, and from that vantage point, He has watched while we yoke ourselves to political pundits who revile those who disagree with them. (1 Corinthians 6:10) He has watched while we express distain for either Hillary Clinton or President Trump. (Matthew 5:22; 1 Timothy 2:1-2) He has watched as some of us side with the black man who is shot while others side with the officer who shot him, and grieved over our failure to understand that He loves them all. (Ephesians 4:30 – 5:2)
He has also watched many of us walk by the homeless and the addict without giving a thought to how we might help them. (Luke 10:25-37)
There is no sin greater for the Church than the failure to love. If we don’t have love for others – selfless, serving, unconditional agape love in both word and deed – then we are nothing, have nothing, and gain nothing. (1 Corinthians 13; 1 John 3:18) Without love, we walk right along with the rest of the world in darkness. (1 John 2:9-11)
The good news is that we can walk in this love. It is not too late. The Holy Spirit is ready and willing to pour the agape love of God into our hearts. (Romans 5:5) I recommend these four steps.
First, go before the Lord and let the Holy Spirit convict you of sin for the lack of love in your life. Repent!
Second, recognize how much the God who lives in you loves you, and love Him back.
Third, realize that the God inside you loves all these other people around you just as much as He loves you. They are made in His image. Christ paid the price in full for their sins. They are all either His child or someone He wants to become His child.
Fourth, join God in His love for them.
I can join God in loving people who practice Islam, people who practice homosexuality, and people who are on the political “far right” and “far left”. I don’t agree with or encourage their beliefs. Love without God’s truth is not God’s love. But I can truly care about them and value them because God does. Truth without God’s love is not God’s truth.
It starts with you and me. Let’s join together in loving the people God loves, and see what happens!
God bless you, and God bless our community.