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A Love That Shines

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A Love That Shines

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The reality is, sometimes this is easier said than done! We may find it hard to love some individuals as we have personal preferences, consciously or unconsciously. We sometimes have bias towards those who are different, and unfavorable feelings toward others. When we see what people do, how they act and what they say, it may sometimes take a great deal of humility to remember that all people are made in the image of God. We all may not represent that fact in certain times or certain situations.

Later that evening Jesus once again says, “This is My commandment: love each other in the same way I have loved you” (John 15:12, New Living Translation). Doing what we are told to do or should do is sometimes not an easy task. It also requires time, focused effort, practice and diligence so that we don’t have inappropriate reactions, un-Christian responses or attitudes we are unwilling to think about (Philippians 2:4).

First, we need the desire to follow this commandment given by Jesus—and then the commitment. Some of us may also need the tools or techniques and inspirational examples from others to attain this outpouring of love our Elder Brother has charged us with.

We in the Church must live this earthly life exemplifying love and humility, while sharing the truth of the Scriptures. While we are doing this work, let us not dismiss or denigrate anyone. We know helping others, feeding others (spirit and body) and lifting people up should coincide with spreading the truth (Mark 6:37; Mark 6:41-42). Showing concern for all is the path towards Christian love.

We must remember that love should always shine in us or from us—even though our moods, personal perspectives and dislikes can stifle the growth of godly love. Do we love only those in our own circle of familiarity or within our own comfort zones—loving our own likenesses?

It is a natural human tendency to love people who are like ourselves; those of like-mindedness or those who seem the same as we are. Are we overcoming this tendency through the use of God’s Spirit to see all equally under God? Must we politicize, reject, downplay or create division in God’s Church? Will any of us be found having Christian love for individuals unlike ourselves?

Whose feet are we willing to wash?

We must continually practice to be present, utilizing a Christ-like heart and mindset, walking on this Christian path righteously and properly.

Here are some examples and results of what can happen when giving and exhibiting Godly love towards all.

Action versus inaction: the Good Samaritan

The Good Samaritan cared for the man who was attacked by bandits (Luke 10:33-34). There were others who did nothing (Luke 10:31-32). How do you think the Jewish man felt receiving help from a Samaritan? Did it encourage him to change his mind about Samaritans? Did it change his heart? The scriptures don’t say, but I believe it did—or at least planted a seed of love.

Love versus hate: a modern example

In the 1980s an African-American man had several non-confrontational, civilized conversations with Ku Klux Klan (KKK) members of various ranks, even a grand dragon (who is the head of the chapters of this organization). It’s a curious title, as Satan is called that great dragon (Revelation 12:9; Revelation 20:2). This man, Daryl Davis, did not respond with hate while having conversations with Klansmen, but with compassion and humility—with a commitment to building a bridge constructed with love and non-confrontational communication (Romans 12:14).

The KKK was formed in 1865 after the Civil War to terrorize and subjugate freed slaves. The KKK organization has a documented history of hate, assault, murder and lynching.

Davis, a stranger who did not hate those who hated him, helped Klansmen see that they should respect—or ought to love and respect—all peoples (Matthew 5:44, 46). Despite the organization’s prejudice and violence, some individual KKK members (who may have been misinformed and more open to forming a relationship) renounced and resigned from the Klan. Some even become good friends of Davis.

Interactions built with love—both inside one’s circle or outside one’s comfort zone—can produce amazing examples of Christian brotherhood.

Sharing is caring: a child’s point of view

When one child was asked what love is, their response was, “Sharing your french fries with someone even if they don’t ask.” Another child responded, “Love is giving someone one of your favorite toys.” In another example, a four-year-old lived next door to an elderly man who had recently experienced the death of his wife. One day the boy saw his neighbor crying. He went over and climbed into the neighbor’s lap and sat there. When he came home his mother ask what he said to the man. “Nothing,” he said, “I just helped him cry.”

Be happy with those who are happy, weep with those who weep (Romans 12:15). Do young children have a greater understanding of love than you and I?

We all can be better at cultivating and demonstrating Christian love. We are obligated to do so (Romans 12:10).

Here are some suggestions and techniques to encourage the growth of brotherly love:

1. We must all be humble. Does not our Father see us as reprehensible and sinful (Isaiah 64:6)? Does He not love us still?2. Be patient and tender-hearted (Colossians 3:12).

3. Be present in peace. Don’t try to stir up controversy or aggravate anyone by showing preferences for a political party, making incendiary comments or remarks which may belittle someone’s personal insights or experiences (Philippians 2:3).

4. Be conscious of our words. Words might be unintentionally abrasive and not carefully thought out (Proverbs 16:23-24). In these ways our interactions build bridges, not tear them down (Ephesians 4:3).

5. Jesus showed amazing capacity to ask questions and listen (Mark 9:21). We may be correct in our discerning of a person’s circumstances or thought processes. We also might be wrong (Romans 12: 16)! We should listen carefully (Proverbs 18:2).

6. We might need to change perspectives and not be so rigid. Try on someone else’s shoes, it might help us to understand (1 Peter 3:8).

7. We can also practice hospitality and invite people to our homes. Socialize and fellowship with those with whom we are less familiar (Hebrews 10:25).

8. We can approach brethren we don’t know very well yet. We can just smile, speak and greet them (Ruth 2:4). How many of us have walked right past a member while at church without acknowledging them? We can teach our children to speak to their elders (Romans 12: 10) and vice versa.

9. We should encourage (1 Thessalonians 5:11) and try to motivate others (Hebrews 10:24).

10. We must not forget to reach out to those who are ill and/or isolated (Matthew 25:35).

11. Do the obvious. Pray for others (1 Timothy 2:1).

There are many more ways each of us can think of to stir up Christian love and brotherhood. I pray that I can do better; I pray that we can all do better.

The world versus the Church of God

Picture in a dining room a large table with a very large pot of delicious stew. All the people sitting around the table are thin, famished and sickly. They are all holding spoons with very long handles and each person reaches into the pot of stew and takes a spoonful. Because the handles of the spoons are longer than their arms, they cannot turn the spoons back to reach their mouths. This can well exemplify the world in which we live.

However, picture another house where the rooms are exactly the same as the one previously mentioned. There are large tables with very large pots of delicious stew. The people here have the same long handled spoons but they are well nourished, healthy, laughing and talking with each other in joyous fellowship. But you see, because they had loved one another, they quickly learned to feed each other. This is how we should be in the Church of God.

The love we show to our brethren and the world should bring glory to God (Ephesians 4:2-6), not just on Sabbaths and Holy Days or Passover—but every day, week, month and year. For we know God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, (John 3:16) and that Son, Jesus, loved us as well (John 17:11; John 17:26). We are commanded to love the Father, the Son and all our many brothers and sisters who are made in the image of God. A love that shows itself is a love that shines (Matthew 5:16).

Vincent Braddock