Two friends at work were discussing an irritable, short-tempered co-worker. One of them said, “Yeah – he’s like a porcupine. He’s got a lot of fine points, but he’s hard to get close to.” Do you have somebody like that in your life? I feel certain most of us would say we do! Practically the whole world knows Jesus preached “love your enemies” and “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 5:44a * Matthew 22:39). We also know He said, “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son …” (John 3:16a). When it comes to love as a subject, Christian folk talk and discuss and think and sing about it a lot. And rightly so because the Scriptures already cited (and a truckload of others we could cite) talk about it a lot. The subject of “love” gets a lot of ink in the Bible and so it ought to play large in our writing and preaching and singing and daily living in the church. The Bible is saturated with teaching about God’s love for mankind and about His will that we love each other. After declaring that God manifested His love for us through both the incarnation and crucifixion of His Son (1 John 4:9-10), the apostle John rushes on to declare in 1 John 4:11, “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” The apostle Paul proclaimed a similar idea in Romans 5:8 – God “demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were sinners, Christ died for us.” Two verses earlier at verse 6, Paul describes those for whom Christ died (read you, me and everybody) as “ungodly.” Further, at verse 10 in the same chapter the apostle makes reference to Christ dying for us “when we were enemies” (think of it – we were “enemies” of God). Now, I don’t like to think of myself as a “sinner” or “ungodly” or as one of God’s “enemies” any more than you do. But God didn’t ask us whether we like it or not. He just had an inspired man write it down as a spiritual fact and reality. And so it stands written. Sin made it difficult for God to get close to me (and to you). And in so far as deserving God’s love and the gift of His Son, I not only didn’t have a lot of fine points, I didn’t have any (and neither did you). But He loved me – me the sinner, the ungodly, the enemy! And loving us He has “given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling aroma” (Ephesians 5:2). All of that is behind the Bible’s statement at 1 John 4:11 – “If God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”
Add to all these Bible statements this one from Hebrews 13:1 –”Let brotherly love continue.” It’s not enough to begin to love or love someone when loving is easy to do. If our love is to please God and make us more like Him, love must be more, so much more, than a topic for Bible study or a song we sing on Sunday! Hebrews 13:1 in the The Amplified Bible lays it out in clear terms – “Let love for your fellow believers continue and be a fixed practice with you – never let it fail.” Sometimes our Christian love needs a shot of adrenaline. We worship a God whose love caused Him to send His Son to die the most shameful, torturous death imaginable. We hear Jesus demanding that we love and do good to our enemies (Matthew 5:44). Meanwhile, we struggle to muster enough love to be civil and kind and to speak and do good to our mate or our neighbor or someone on the other side of the church building! We may be guilty of eating at the Lord’s Table with someone we won’t speak to in the foyer. When that’s the case, our Christian love needs fixing! God’s love toward us is a fixed practice. Is your brotherly love broken? If so, why not let God help you fix it?