My heart was broken this week as I learned of an entire group of people who have united together solely out of their opposition to and animosity for another group of people. The part that broke my heart…they’re supposed to be Christians. They all sit together as a group in a church and even have a name for themselves and a Facebook page. It’s a solidarity of animosity and anger, united by their mutual ill will. It breaks my heart. Can you imagine how it breaks Jesus’ heart?
Words from Him come to mind. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35). “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another” (John 15:12, 17). We are to love other believers the way Jesus loves us! We are not to only love those that we agree with, who treat us the way we think we should be treated, or seem to be loving to us, we are to love other believers the way Jesus loves us…no matter what! Jesus loved us when we were still in the middle of rebellion against him (Romans 5:8). If Jesus expects us to love our enemies, how much more are we to love our brothers and sisters!
While praying for us shortly before his death, Jesus said to the Father, “I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you” (John 17:20–21). Then I think of those who call themselves followers of Jesus who actively do all they can to create division, express animosity, and in essence, do everything possible to prevent Jesus’ prayer from being fulfilled. That’s pretty serious, isn’t it?
Maybe that’s why John wrote, “Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them” (1 John 2:9-11).
So how are your relationships with other Christians…ALL other Christians? I realize that we cannot control how others treat us or feel about us. But we have a choice to make when it comes to our relationships with all others in God’s family. Are we walking in the light? Do we have the love of God in us? Do we challenge one another to practice that kind of love? Jesus made it pretty clear, if we belong to him, we have an obligation to love our family, his family, no matter what. Any animosity or unresolved anger, resentment, or division is an indication of a much deeper and more serious spiritual problem.
“He has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their Christian brothers and sisters.” – 1 John 4:21 NLT