1 John 4:15-20 (NLT)
15 All who declare that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God. 16 We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love.
God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. 17 And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.
18 Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. 19 We love each other because he loved us first.
20 If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see?
“We must distinguish between the fear of God and being afraid of him; the fear of God imports high regard and veneration for God. Obedience and good works, done from the principle of love, are not like the servile toil of one who unwillingly labors from dread of a master’s anger. They are like that of a dutiful child, who does services to a beloved father, which benefit his brethren, and are done willingly. It is a sign that our love is far from perfect, when our doubts, fears, and apprehensions of God, are many. Let heaven and earth stand amazed at his love.”1
I’m amazed at hate, anger, dishonesty and self-righteousness. They seem to run together in the same pack. I know hatred is easy to latch on to. I spent several years there between drunk and sober – the dry drunk state. Self-righteous hate, anger, rage, fury are all very powerful and I latched onto that power for worse (there was no better, just worse and worse). And what’s amazing, there’s no fear. Just hate, anger, dishonesty and self-righteousness.
I see parallels in our world today. Divided, self-righteous, angry, hateful. And it’s not just “Christians” as all the name calling and intolerance from all sides point out pretty clearly. Civility is dead, replaced with self-righteous, sanctimonious anger. When “If you’re a Republican you are racist, xxxxphobic and hateful” is different that “If you are a xxxx you’re lying, thieving, lazy and dirty” we’ve gone off the deep end. Neither is right, though one will be condemned, one will be embraced as truth and taught in schools. This is insanity. What a waste when we can stand bathed in His amazing Love.
The answer to this insanity of course, is that Love. Love your enemies, don’t hate them. Embrace them. Tolerance (the ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with) or reconciliation (“restoring a relationship to one that is friendly and compatible with each other”2)?
As Christians, we’re called to love without fear, to reconcile, to live in awe filled wonder and love centered fear of our God. Christ loved us first and we are to love like that. When we love, God lives in us. We need to be the vanguard of change. Let’s get back to where God wants us.
1 Matthew Henry’s Concise Bible Commentary
2 Dr. Michael Williams, http://www.patheos.com/blogs/christiancrier/2015/04/16/what-is-reconciliation-how-does-the-bible-define-it/