John 13:35: “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Love is not a debate. Sometimes we, even as Christians, can get so caught up in being right, that we forget what really matters. This is especially evident on social media. It saddens me greatly when I think of the way so many of us treat each other on the internet, so many sides, so many opinions, yelling back and forth at each other, each claiming they are right. Angry posts, unkind comments.
Is it really worth it?
The only thing that matters in the end is not whether the other person was wrong or right, but that we showed them love, that we showed them who Jesus is. Because the thing is, we have a freedom and a hope that is eternal, that is above anything that could happen in this world. So in light of eternity, we don’t have to prove ourselves right on every issue; instead, we can live our lives marked by love. We can’t argue people into believing the Gospel, but God’s love can draw them to the Gospel.
Think about this: Jesus died for that transgender person, Jesus died for that corrupt politician, Jesus died for the person who wrote that post that made you so angry. Jesus died for them, because He loves them.
Now, don’t get me wrong, loving someone doesn’t mean you agree with everything they say, or that you just accept everything as right. Sometimes, loving someone means having to tell them when they’re wrong, which can be a very difficult thing to do. But it is all about how you do it.
Instead of shaming someone for what they think, respectfully disagree. Instead of letting your anger or fear get the better of you on social media, stick to what you believe while letting others know that they are loved. God hates sin, yes, but He infinitely loves us sinners.
Let this be the attitude you have towards others, “I may not agree with you, and I don’t believe that what you are doing is right, but I love you despite that, because God loves me despite all of my failings.”
If we live a life of love, people will notice, and they will wonder why we are different. Especially now, during a time of darkness, we need to let our light shine more than ever.
What is love?
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 describes love in this way:
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all thing.”
That is what love is. Patient, kind, not self-seeking. Ask yourself this: What do you want to be known for in this life? What do you want to live your life for?
Is it money, influence, safety, or freedom? Not even freedom is worth more than love. For even if we were in a prison cell with nothing left, even if the earth shook and the mountains fell, we have a freedom that is greater than all of that, a freedom that lasts. So let us live life for love.
Yet in all this, remember that you don’t have to try to do this with your own strength. We alone are not capable of love, our hearts are sinful, and human nature thinks of self first.
But through Jesus, God gives us the power to love–the power to be Jesus to this dark world.
Will we still mess up? Absolutely. But God does not expect perfection from us, He only asks us to take one small step, one act of love, and trust that He will grow us.
How To Grow In Love
First, and most important, pray. If you ask God to grow love in you, He is faithful to answer. And we definitely cannot do this on our own, only in His power can we be different.
Through social media: You can post encouragement through your social media. You can scroll past the debates that stir up anger in you, and God will give you strength to turn the other cheek.
In public: although this is less with the corona virus, you can still be a light towards others in this way. It’s the smile at the stranger across the street, it’s letting the other person have the last rolls of toilet paper or the last bottle of hand sanitizer, it is letting someone in front of you in line or offering kind words to the exhausted cashier.
In the Church: Younger believers, you can do this by being an example to the believers and not letting anyone look down on you because you are young, but making a difference, loving God’s people around you. And to the older believers, you can teach and nurture the younger, not looking down on them, but showing them God’s love. There can be unity and love in the church despite our disagreements, despite our differences, because that is what the Church is called to.
1 Corinthian 13:1-3 shows how love should be behind all of our actions:
“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 burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.”
Love is God’s heart for each of us. Love is Jesus’ blood poured out for our sin. Love is God running after us, calling us home, reaching out to save us. When we receive this love, let us overflow with it so that we can give it to a world that desperately needs it.
Love is not easy, sometimes it can be painful and difficult, but it is so worth it. And I believe that love has the power to change both our hearts, and this broken world.