"Jesus said to him, "'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets."" (Matthew 22:37-40)
The Lord Jesus told us that we ought to love our neighbors as ourselves. This command is non-negotiable: we should love our fellow Christians and those who are not Christians around us and around the world.
Many of us, however, find it really hard to love others. We find it difficult, even impossible, to do.
And no matter how much we try to reach out to others, we just can't sustain it; we end up walking away wounded and more unable to love others with God's love.
Why is this? Why do many of us Christians find it hard to love others?
It's because we haven't fully understood the love of God yet.
Fear of getting hurt
Friends, loving others will mean preparing ourselves for hurt. We live in a fallen world where people are under the influence and dominion of sin, and thus we can't expect people to be so warm and loving all the time.
Many Christians fail to love others because they don't want to be hurt. They don't want to feel the pain of reaching out to someone, only to be rejected.
The real issue here, friends, is not the hurt that we can possibly receive when we attempt to love others.
The real issue here is the fear of getting hurt that we feel.
Why do we feel this fear?
Many Christians love going to church and conferences where there's singing and praising, and where people are all smiles and are giving each other warm handshakes and all that.
They go to church, saying they love to worship God and see other Christians, but in reality they just can't stand to see a fallen world where the unsaved speak offensively and live in a way that's not "Christian."
Simply put, many Christians go to church because they feel accepted and welcomed there.
The bad thing here, however, is that these same Christians think of reaching out to people as a painful thing to do.
"I might get rejected," they think to themselves.
If we feel scared of being rejected, or fearful that if we go out to reach others we will be hurt, then we really don't understand the love of God.
And since we don't understand the love of God, we really haven't received it yet.
And since we haven't received it yet, we haven't received the healing we need for our fears, hurts, wounds, and brokenness.
1 John 4:18-19 tells us,
"There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us."
God's love empowers us to love others
Friends, God's love is what empowers us to love others. The more we know God and receive His love, the more we get healed from our wounds and set free from our bondages and fears.
And the more we are healed and set free, the more we will be able to love others.
God's love is what secures us; that no matter what we face as we reach out to love others and bring the Gospel to them, we are assured that God loves us. That no matter how many times we get rejected in our efforts to share Christ to others, God will never reject us, leave us, or abandon us.
It's His love that enables us to love others.
Friends, I leave you with this short but powerful passage. Let God's love heal you and give you security, enough to enable you to love in Jesus' name.
"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written:
"For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter."
Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:35-39)