How to Love?

Jesus said to his disciples: “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” (John 13:34). It is the new commandment that the Son of God gave to Christians. The commandment of love is the fulfillment of the law according to the Romans 13:10 which says, “Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” The same Paul says it again in the book of Galatians, “For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (5:14). Love is necessary for Christian life and so for salvation. Without the love, nothing can save the person (cf. 1 Cor. 13:1-3). Regarding such an important thing to Christians, he commanded them like John 13:34, saying basically, ‘Do it the same way as I have done to you.’ So, I would like to think about the way of Christian love according to this scripture.

As Christians have to do love one another as the scripture commands, we have to know how Christ loves us. One of the best scriptures that talk about it is Romans 8:35-39:

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (ESV).

His love is not thwarted by anything. Nothing can stop it, hinder it or diminish it. It is not shrunk by any oppression or thereat. There is not obstacle that it cannot penetrate to reach the person who is in Christ. Who the person is not an obstacle. Christ is no person-respecter. Whoever it may be, only if the person is in him and calls on his name, he loves the person with no partiality. It is the same even if the person was so terrible a sinner, such as a murderer or an adulterator. As it does not matter, negative things of people cannot thwart the love of Christ for them. His love is not for perfect people; if it is, there is none to be loved by him. Rather his love is open to all with the same degree to all. Not only that, what the person did to him or to his people cannot thwart his love to the person either. He loved and forgave those who were deceived and shouted, “Crucify him, crucify him!” and those who crucified him  as well. And that, it was even before they believed him and repented of their terrible sins (cf. Luke 23:34; Acts 2:35). He also loved the one who persecuted his church so severely and later even called him to be one of his greatest servants, that is, apostle Paul (cf. Acts 26:9-11; Phil. 3:6a).   

Now, therefore, we have to love one another exactly “as” he does us. Our love of others should not be thwarted by anything. Who they are should not be an obstacle to our love of them. Are they sinners now?—It should not thwart our love of them. Are they murderers, rapers, or gays, or homosexuals?—But who they are now should not hinder us from loving them nor make us step back or hide from them. If it is true, what about their belief? Should it be a problem for in loving them? They may be fanatics now; they may be a cults now. But what does it matter? Weren’t we some of those before we were born again by the word of God? That we love them is not that they believe what we believe now, but that Christ loves them. If this is true, the things that we do not agree with them should not be any obstacle to our love of them. They may have much negative reputation. However, it should not be hindering our love from reaching them. If this is true, our negative feeling of them is nothing to talk about in terms of love.   

Not only that, what they have done to us and how they treat us are not anything to thwart our love of them. They may be those who make us upset; however, it is never a thing that can justify our not-loving of them. They may be those who speak ill of us, gossip us, or slander us; however, if we do not love them because of that we are nothing and we gain nothing whatever we may do to them as good works (cf. 1 Cor. 13:1-3). In this regard, that they are persecutors of us cannot be a reason to justify our not-loving of them. They persecute us but do not crucify us as the enemies of Jesus did him. Therefore, there is no excuse for not-loving of them if we think we are followers of Jesus in loving even our enemies. Even though they may be judged by God later as they have oppressed his righteous people unrighteously, if now we do not love them but hate, we will be in the same line of judgement with them on the last day. It is because only as we love exactly as our Lord and Savior did us we will be called his disciples and be judged according to our deeds.

As the love of Christ is not thwarted by anything, the love of Christians to one another, as they are followers of him, should not have anything that thwarts the love of others. It means we have love others whoever they are and whatever they may be doing to us; we, as disciples of Jesus who died for the sinners in love, have to love others as he does. 

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