Dallas Willard writes, “Some time ago, I came to realize that I did not love the people next door. They were, by any standards, dangerous and unpleasant people…As I brooded over them one day, indulging my irritation, the Lord helped me see that I really had no love from them at all…I realized how little I trule cared for nearly all the people I dealt with through the day…I had to admit that I had never earnestly sought to be possessed by God’s kind of love, to become more like Jesus.”
I watch my denomination fall apart and some of those reasons are understandable. Some of those reasons even transcend the current direction the of unscriptural path we have been on for the last few decades.
It begs the question, ‘what would Jesus do?’ Stand up for truth? Pronounce Woe? The most difficult fights are those that occur within the same household.
If it is diffcult to love our neighbor, how much more difficult it is to love your brother or sister who sins against you. What would it look like in times of conflict to ‘be possessed by God’s kind of love, to become more like Jesus’ when times of conflict are the only real tests of God’s love anyway. I don’t mean squishy feelings but a love that washes feet and goes to the cross; a love that transcends fuzziness but is a reflection of God’s very heart.
4 thoughts on “Is it possible?”
I honestly don’t know how I could reveal God’s love to an enemy who was about to slay me, my family and friends. Would I try my best to disarm him, or even kill him if I had to? That’s the musings of the natural man about a situation which is not the current reality. Just as “no one is ever told what would have happened” (as Aslan teaches in the Chronicles of Narnia), so no one can know what he would do in a situation that hasn’t happened yet, so there’s no sleep to be lost wondering about it.
As for our enemies in bulk, such as our political, cultural, social or religious antagonists, as a Christian you can only say that you love them, but you cannot prove it, because these enemies are only ideas.
As a Christian, I am called to love not only my neighbor but also my enemy. Luckily for me, my enemies are few. I don’t completely disagree that it’s difficult to love our neighbor, but in actuality, it isn’t difficult at all. What makes us think such thoughts is the nature of our speculation on what does that love look like. Most people start at the wrong end of the commandment. Though the proof of a true lover of mankind is being willing to lay down one’s life for a friend or even a stranger or enemy, that is not the love that is required of us. In fact, there is no programme to the commandment. We follow it when we make ourselves ready to fulfill it, without ostentation or self-consciousness, and simply do what Jesus does in the circumstances before us.
If on the surface, your next door neighbors are unlovable or unlikable, what is that to you? Even a smile or a kind word, a friendly “hello” is the substance of the willingness to love others. It is also important to understand that though we are commanded to love, and that that is what Jesus also does, He loves us and all mankind, there is never a guarantee that our love or His will be accepted. And yet, there is no exception to the commandment on our side. Like the love of Jesus, our love must be the same at all times, simply ready to help because we want for the other the same thing that we want for ourselves, peace and salvation.
I cannot love or hate my enemy at large, if I have one, or people in general. I can only love one person at a time, and to that love there is no stipulation or requirement as to content, only intention. We need not try to love others, only to fail. We need only to love others as they come, and not worry about the outcome.
I studied with a holy man for many years who once said, “It is possible to slap a man in love.” Is it? I think it is. Love is not gushiness, it is legitimate regard for the person, with commitment to his best interests. It is attention to his “flaws”, not from judgement, but from sympathy for the suffering they cause him. It is compassionate action for him benefit when he needs it, which might include a slap. I think this could apply to society, too. To congress. To the church. To our neighbor. To our spouse.
I don’t always love God as I should.
I don’t always love myself as I should.
So it’s no surprise that I don’t always love my neighbor as I should.
But it’s still a very good post!
Morpheus: “I studied with a holy man for many years who once said, “It is possible to slap a man in love.””
And I conclude that God can judge unrepentant sinners and have them condemned to be eternally lost and still be a completely loving God.