|(picture from wdyl.com)|
We need to stop allowing our petty differences to keep us apart. Sometimes we literally alienate each other with our opinions and proclivities. Some of us reading this right now already have an opinion they want to share that argues my point. The Bible says that the world will know that we are Christians by our love for one another. Yet, so often, we don’t behave lovingly to those who are closest to us, let alone other Christians whose opinions differ from ours.
We hear the word ‘tolerance’ tossed around a lot in daily discussions, and we’re all generally pointing the finger at someone whose beliefs differ from ours and insisting that they’re the ones not being tolerant. I find myself doing the same thing, quite frankly, because “they” are the ones who appear to be intolerant.
But, why do we need to tolerate each other? Why can’t we love each other as Jesus instructed us to do? He wasn’t making a flippant suggestion. When asked what the greatest commandment was, His audience was looking for “the most important rule(s) to follow, the ones that make the biggest difference, the ones that mean the most to God, the ones that had no bending room or compromising. Jesus didn’t quibble over the numbers and randomly pick, “…oh, I think number seven is pretty important, but so is number three…” while considering the original Ten Commandments. We read: “Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” – Matthew 22:34-39 (NIV)
If we don’t get that command, none of the others really matter. (1 Corinthians 13) If we can’t love like Jesus loves, we don’t have Him in our hearts. 1 John 4:20 expounds; “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.” (NIV) These are some very strong words!
Those words are even harder when we put them in the context that love is not shown through mere words; but in our actions.
I challenge us to contemplate our actions. Perhaps even try looking at our actions through someone else’s eyes. Are we often judgmental and critical? Or can we honestly reflect on a loving, forgiving nature that mirrors God’s?
Some heartfelt repentance and asking direction from God will get us back on track, quickly.
“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” – Romans 8:1-2 (KJV)