All too often nowadays you see or hear about non-believers harping on "intolerant" Christians not loving the way the world expects. This is especially true of those whose behavior is so repugnant to a Christian that we often try to limit our exposure to it. These folks like to say "love thy neighbor" and call us hypocrites because we don't accept their behavior. The crux of the problem is in the definition of what the Bible means by love Christian, biblical love.
What is true Christian, biblical love? How would you define it? I would say that Jesus showed us plain and simple. The answer is not just because He gave His life for us; rather, it is why He gave His life for us. He died because He wanted us to be closer to God. Without grace this couldn't happen. You could say that Jesus loved us so much He died for us or you could say that He wanted us to be closer to God so much He died for us. God showed us this too. You could say, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son" or you could say that God wanted us to be closer to Him so much He gave His only begotten Son. It seems to me that the easy answer is that true Christian, biblical love is the desire to see someone closer to God.
If you look at Christian, biblical love in this manner it changes the view of some things. We are given two primary commands by Jesus. First:
And Jesus said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind." This is the first and great commandment.
This is also stated in Mark 12:30 and is a reflection of Deuteronomy 6:5. How are we to do this? Desire to be closer to God in everything you think and do. We still must deal with this world but it's all a matter of perspective. We should be as children:
And said, Amen I say to you, except you be converted and become as little children, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.
Any parent can tell you about how kids can suffer from separation anxiety. That's how we should be with God. To long away from the Word, or prayer, or fellowship, should cause us intense anxiety. And just as a child can try a parent by wanting constant attention we should be constantly seeking God He will never tire of us (even though sometimes we may get stuck in the tantrum stage of the "terrible twos" never happy unless we get our own way). Like a child wanting to be closer to a parent we should always be trying to do things to get God's approval to get Him to smile at us.
The second command Jesus gave:
And the second is like it, you shall love your neighbor as yourself.
This is also stated in Mark 12:31 and is a reflection of Leviticus 19:18. How are we to do this? Do as much to help your neighbor get closer to God as you do for yourself. Do you pray for yourself then pray for your neighbor too. Have you got a Bible then give one to your neighbor. Do you go to Church offer to take your neighbor. Could you use help with the troubles and trials of this world that distract you from drawing closer to God then help your neighbor there too.
This definition of Christian Biblical love not only makes a lot of sense it also shows how what seems impossible for man is possible with God (Matthew 19:26, Mark 10:27, Luke 18:27). We are told:
But I say to you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use and persecute you. That you may be the children of your Father which is in heaven, for he makes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust. For if you love them that love you what reward have you? Do not even the publicans the same? And if you salute your brothers only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the publicans so? Therefore be perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
So how do you love an enemy? Just like you do your neighbor pray for them, give them a Bible, etc. Help them overcome the obstacles that hinder their knowing and growing with God.
It's harder to concentrate on drawing closer to God when you're hungry all the time; so we are to help feed the poor and witness to them. It's harder to concentrate on drawing closer to God when you're freezing outside; so we are to help clothe and shelter the poor - and witness to them.
This goes for the way we are to love when interacting with fellow believers too. We are all individuals with our own quirks and perks. My view of some things may (will) differ from many fellow brothers but we should be able to get past that to love each other to help each other grow closer to God. I sincerely hope my efforts reflect this belief.
You see then that true Christian Biblical love is not about doing things to get someone to learn to like you - or about you learning to like them. It is not about being nice or tolerant. It is about getting them and yourself closer to God. It's not a touchy-feely, warm, fuzzy teddy bear, give-me-a-hug kind of thing. Well, at least not until it works and they become a fellow believer maybe then.
It is a spiritual love. As Christ said we are not of this world. Neither is our manner of love. The hard part of course is trying to explain this to a non-believer. I compare it to trying to explain colors to someone who was born blind. Only with God's grace will either ever reach full understanding. Still, we have to try. The bottom line is get closer to God and help others get closer to God too.
In Brotherly Love,
NOTE You have to love but if you are struggling with a particular situation remember:
Give not that which is holy to the dogs, or cast your pearls before swine - lest they trample them under their feet and turn again and rend you.
Reprove them and if there is no repentance move onto to more fertile fields. There are literally thousands of folks begging for just a Bible or even just a letter from a fellow believer see the Christian Service Section of my website:
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