Why Do We Need to Remind Ourselves of the Basics?
Love your neighbor. Do unto others as you would have done to yourself. It’s the Golden Rule, the command most Christians and many non-Christians learn as children. So why say it again?
Because love is what keeps us serving people genuinely instead of serving to be on trend, to look holy, or to feel important. We can only demonstrate real love with God’s help, which means our love for other people can show them glimmers of God’s perfect love.
What Does It Mean to Love Your Neighbor?
Consider this familiar description of love from the New Testament:
“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” 1 John 3:16-18
For some of us, those last words can be uncomfortable. Aren’t we called to speak to people in love? What about loving people by telling them about the gospel?
John isn’t saying that we cannot love people with our words; the counsel of Scripture repeatedly instructs us to tame our tongues, build others up with our words, and tell others about God. But here John is talking about “word or talk” that is not backed up with “deed and truth.” John is reminding us that love is real and active. It needs to be lived out.
How many times have we read the news and felt bad about the refugee crisis but not really known what to do next? Watching a documentary or reading news stories about the refugee crisis falls short of tangibly loving those refugees. So do long online discussions (or short blog posts), if they are not backed up by actions. Love is something we do. It shows up in the conversations we start, the neighborhoods we choose to move into, and the way we spend our weekends.
Let’s ask God to help us love genuinely and humbly. Let’s consider how he has first loved us. And then let’s act in love.