As I watch the divisions in the United States and within the Church widen, I cry out to the Lord.
My personal problems seem so small as I weep for the Church, asking God to reveal my wickedness, to purify my heart and mind so I can live in alignment with His life-transforming truth and love.
Still, I’m wrestling with God as I witness hate infesting communities and dividing people.
I watch in disbelief as well-known Christian leaders, blinded by idolatry, add checkmarks on evil’s scorecard by condoning, excusing, minimizing, and contributing to the sins that make folks want to run from Jesus instead of to Him.
I don’t want to drive people away from Jesus.
I don’t want to stray from Jesus, either.
So, I began to ask God a simple question:
How can I truly love and follow Jesus?
My search led me back to the basics.
“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.” (1 John 4:20)
Jesus Himself said that loving Him is synonymous to obeying Him (John 14:15). He clearly declares the theme of love with the greatest commandment, too:
“Love the Lord your God with all you 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 22:37-40)
As I studied Scripture, I began to realize that truly loving and following Jesus results in the Spirit-empowered obedience to sacrificially love our neighbors as we love ourselves.
Selfless and sacrificial love protects “our neighbors,” all the people God created and loves, more fiercely than we protect our earthly rights, our biased opinions, our political beliefs and affiliations, our traditions, and our need to be right instead of being right with God.
Christ followers cannot love sacrificially or selflessly if we’re content with cowering in the dark corners of our comfort zones, hiding behind apathy, indifference, or approval through silence to avoid conflict or criticism.
In the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), Jesus commends the Good Samaritan for having mercy on his fellow man and commands His disciples to “go and do likewise” (v. 37).
Oh, Lord. Forgive me! Change me and make me more like You, merciful Jesus.
How often have I chosen the sin of indifference, refusing to love someone with my words, actions, thoughts, and attitudes?
How often have I chosen the sin of idolatry, placing myself above You and everyone else?
The more I studied the Bible, the more I discovered God’s repeated emphasis on loving our neighbors as a commandment not an option:
“If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers.” (James 2:8-9)
When we choose to truly love and follow Jesus, we can begin a wave of healing that ripples through our homes and into our communities, in person and online.
We may not experience physical restoration of a relationship or guarantee an offender’s change of heart when we’re the ones forgiving and choosing to love, but we can rely on God’s just and merciful love to work in and through the most painful circumstances.
Though the road toward change and healing will not be easy or short, our mission as Christ followers is clear.
If we say we love Jesus, we are commanded to love all people as Jesus loves us ̶ selflessly and sacrificially ̶ because He first loved us (1 John 4:19).
As we live for Jesus and love like Jesus, we can draw people to the hope we have in Christ and make disciples of all nations by being true examples of disciples of Christ (Matthew 28:16-20).
Love will always prevail because our victorious God Himself is love.
But as I cry out to Jesus today, I’m praying He’ll change my heart and transform my thinking so that I can prevail by living a victorious life in Christ ̶ truly loving and following Jesus, which will be evident in the ways I love others who are different from me, who believe differently than me, and even those who refuse to love me back.
What a glorious day it will be when God uses our loving obedience, our genuine and selfless love for Him and others, to draw others closer to Him, to inspire others to dig deeper into His Word, and to encourage others to delight in His love as they enter into His eternal Kingdom!
Lord, thank You for loving us, forgiving us, and empowering us to love and forgive others. As we watch the atrocities unfolding right before our eyes and grieve over the blatant hatred destroying lives, it is ever apparent that we need You, Lord.
Please reveal our wickedness so we can repent, turn away from our sins, and represent You while living as foreigners on this earth.
Help us place offenders in Your hands, so that we can be freed to make a difference in our world by refusing to be indifferent.
As we rest in the surety of Your constant presence, give us all we need to seek peace, celebrate diversity as we stand in unity, and love selflessly, sacrificially, and generously all the days of our lives, starting today.
In Jesus’s name, Amen.
Who, besides Jesus, loved you into the Kingdom of God?
The Lord used so many people to love me as He prepared my heart to surrender to Him. However, I would like to thank Ms. Virginia, Winona, Barbara P., Cendy, and Miriam for loving me like Jesus before I’d even seen a “real Bible,” and while I was deliberately unloving and unlovable.
Who is God asking you to love into His Kingdom as you share the Gospel with them?
How are you loving Jesus by loving others in the against injustice?
As I seek to fall head over heels in love with Jesus more and more each day, I am reading through the Bible in a year with the Our Daily Bread reading schedule. If you would like to join me, please let me know in the comments section or send me a message.
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Please join me in loving our littlest neighbors by ordering extra copies of Different Like Me to share as gifts today.
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One easy way to make a huge impact is by writing a short review on Amazon today. All you have to do is share what you like about the book and if you would recommend the book to other readers.
I look forward to being rooted in God’s Word as we grow closer to God’s people together!