Crossways Concepts

Because it is all about the cross...

Insights from the scripture as lead by the Holy Spirit

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Of Course I Love Everybody, Except Him and Her and...

For most of us, the people we know can be classified into 3 categories.  

The first group includes those people that are easy to love.  We place into this group those people that love us and think like we do.

Next we have people that are difficult to love.  This includes our “sandpaper brothers”, those that tend to rub us the wrong way.  These are the people that annoy us, that seem to be out-of-sync with us or are generally driving us crazy.

But, whether we like to admit it or not, there are those people that are virtually impossible to love.  The people that wind up in this group are people that have badly hurt us, that consistently work against us or deliberately seek to undermine what we try to do.  These people make the Biblical commandment to “love one another” especially frustrating.  When we consider these people, we start looking for loopholes in the commandment.

The Scripture says that to understand the love we should be giving, that we should look at how Jesus loved:

This is how we have come to know love: he laid down His life for us. (1 John 3:16)

But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us!  For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, then how much more, having been reconciled, will we be saved by His life! (Romans 5:8,10)

Christ showed His love by allowing Himself to be killed for us.  But look closely at the verse from Romans,  He died for us “while we were still sinners”.  He didn't die for a bunch of righteous people that had done everything right and just needed their ticket to heaven, He died for people like me.

Before I became a Christian, I was God's enemy.  I used to consider it to be great sport to twist things around to shake the faith of Christians.  I supported causes and beliefs that are contrary to the Bible.  I talked badly about the church and Jesus.  In short, I worked against the Church.

But, Christ died for me, even though I was His enemy.

That best-known Scripture doesn't say, “For Christ so loved the Church...”, it says, “For Christ so loved the world".  He didn't die for some cleaned-up version of the world, He died for the world that is full of wickedness, evil and sin.  Even those people that seek to undermine Him or directly fight against Him.

That is the kind of love that Jesus demonstrated.  This is not a love that just loves the people that love Him.  This is not a love that just loves the people that are easy to love.  This is a love that even extends to His backstabbing enemies.

If His love is the model for the love that we are supposed to have, then we have a HUGE challenge.  How in the world can we ever love like that and love those people?  The simple answer is that we can't. It is completely impossible for us to love like Jesus did.  We are simply not wired that way.  While we can try and try to accomplish Jesus-style love, it is no more possible than it is to flap our arms and fly.

The capacity to love like Jesus must come from Jesus.  He lives inside the heart of every Christian.  There is no question about it, since the Holy Spirit is God and Jesus, that He can love the way that Jesus loved.  However, the Holy Spirit only does what we allow Him to do.  So, if we continue to pursue our self-seeking interests, instead of allowing Him reign in our life, then our loving will be unchanged.

When the Bible chronicles the attributes of a Spirit lead life, it is probably no coincidence that love is listed first (Galatians 5:22).  When Christ's Spirit is allowed to run things in our life, when He is given the priority He deserves, then our love has to be changed.  Our love can't remain self-serving and self-protecting when Christ is directing our being.  Of necessity, our focus has to move away from the interests of “me” and onto His interests of Jesus as we submit to His lordship.

For each of us, we have to continually assess our position relative to Christ.  Our love is one gauge that we can use to determine who is in charge of our life.  As we interact with people, do we act in a manner that promotes us or do we act like Christ would have?  When we encounter people that hurt us, undermine our causes or insult us, how do we respond?  Can we respond with love to those that previously would have been classified as impossible to love?

This is tough stuff.  Even as I write it, I know that I am stepping on my own toes.  People don't make love easy.  Yet the cure for an inability to love the unlovable, isn't to try harder.  In our own power we are incapable of Christ-like love.  That is because our love can't be Christ-LIKE, it must actually be Jesus Christ Himself working in and through us.  The only way that this can happen, is for us to get out of the way and let the Master get to work.

Let your ability to love the unlovable serve as a gauge, like a fuel gauge, to tell you how full your tank is of Jesus.  If the gauge shows that your tank isn't full, then it is time to fill up. The Scripture says, “...those who seek me diligently find me” (Proverbs 8:17).  So, if you are ready for that fill-up, it may require some diligent effort, but He will respond – because of His perfect love for (even) you.

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