I was speaking at a men’s conference a couple of weeks ago. The topic was the love of God. There are a lot of people in Christian circles that will often say something about love being soft, mushy, sentimental, and all that. They will ask me about God’s judgment and wrath. They will insist on something similar to hellfire and brimstone preaching in order to preach ‘the full counsel of the Lord.’ But I think love is the full counsel of the Lord.
God is love. Jesus came to this earth because of love. And the way people will know we are Christians is by the way we love one another.
This love, however, isn’t a simple share-your-feelings-kind of thing. The reason we don’t fully understand this idea is that our culture has made love seem soft and kind. Our love songs are really mushy. Love makes everything alright in the movies even when the main characters have a stupid misunderstanding at some point. Love is mushy in our culture because it is all about loving the lovable and lovely.
Christian love, true Christian love, isn’t warm and fuzzy. It will get you killed. Christian love stands against abuses of power. Christian love fights for the rights of those that are marginalized. Christian love fights against injustice and hatred. And it does it all without throwing a punch, firing a gun, or exploding a bomb.
Christian love is a love that refuses to take sides. It is a love that refuses to have enemies. Jesus said that no sign would be given except the sign of Jonah. Jonah was called to preach repentance to the Ninevites. These were extremely violent and wicked people. The things they did to their enemies were inhumanly cruel. It was to these people God sent a messenger. God cared for the Ninevites. God wanted them to repent. God doesn’t play favorites.
““For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life” John 3.16. Did you see that? The word is everyone. Not just the people we like, or that like us. This meant the Romans, tax collectors, prostitutes, religious leaders, and politicians. This everyone means everyone.
And it is this love that took Jesus to the cross. He could have called legions of angels to destroy the opposition, but he didn’t because he loved us even when we didn’t love him. Even when the world was mocking Jesus and beating him, he refused to pay back evil for evil. He died for them while they were doing all that, and he died for us, because of love.
This love refuses to have enemies in political parties, economic ideals, or social standing. It is a love that is not based on ethnicity, gender, religious belief, or sexual preference. It is a love that is extended to one and all, and is continuously offered regardless of whether it is accepted or not.
I think we give up on this kind of love too quickly. We move to wrath and judgment so fast because the love Christ gave and calls us to follow proves too difficult.
Perhaps I could put it this way: you know you have a god created in your image when that god hates the same people you hate.
Today, think about what it would cost you to love a Republican or Democrat. Think about how you would love a person from the Tea Party or the Socialist Party. Think about how you show your love to your fellow Christians. Anyone can love the lovable but Jesus commands us to love our enemies. It may not be easy or comfortable. It might lead you to a cross. It will be worth it, however. I promise.