1 John 4:9, "God showed how much He loved us by sending His one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through Him. This is REAL love- not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins."
1 John chapter 4, starting at verse 7 the title in my Bible is "Loving One Another".
John is telling us that because of God's love for us, we are to in turn love one another. We can do this with and through God's power.
We do not have to agree with everyone. We don't have to like what everyone does. BUT we should love everyone.
The gay person. The straight person. The other race person. The unsaved person. The criminal. The rich person. The poor person. The Christian who believes differently than you.
You get the picture. God loves us, so we are called to love.
Verse 16 says, "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."
Now, here is the step on your toes Scripture. And here is my take on it.. if we aren't loving people right where they are, how are we EVER going to tell them about God's love?
Verse 20 & 21, "If someone says, "I love God", but hates a Christian brother or sister, that person is a liar, for if we don't love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see? 21 And He has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their Christian brothers and sisters."
We are called to love fellow Christians. Even ones who do crazy stuff like the Westboro Baptist people. What they do is not out of love, so they need to hear the truth and we should not hate them. We can dislike and disagree with what they do and still love them.
I mean seriously.. if you are judging someone, for any reason, especially a nonChristian, what makes you think they will believe you when you tell them that God loves them? I'm sure they won't. They feel judged, therefore, they believe God can't love them because they've messed up too much.
This is where we let our human emotions mess up the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
We are human. We are going to hurt each other. Sometimes on purpose, sometimes on accident. We do not need to hate anyone. PERIOD. No matter what. Hate grows bitterness and that will make you miserable.
We can dislike people. We can disagree with people. We can put up boundaries to protect ourselves from harmful people. But we are called to love them anyway.
In Matthew 18, verses 15-17 Jesus taught us how to handle people we have issues with. The last verse is always taken wrong. When you treat someone like a pagan or tax collector, it means you don't give up trying to reach them. Not that you cut them out of your life completely.
We are called to love. Even people who have hurt us. It doesn't mean you have to have a relationship with them. It does mean that you love them anyway, and pray for them to give their life to Christ or for them to see the truth of how they hurt you. My Pastor taught on this Sunday and one thing I loved that he said was
"Life is too short to stay in a relationship that is wounding your soul!"
If your soul is being wounded, that person needs God's love. So don't stop praying for their salvation. Or if they are a Christian, for the truth to reach their hearts and them to change.
You ARE dearly loved. I hope you know that. God's REAL love was shown to us on the cross. Nothing we can do will make Him stop loving us... and nothing can take away His love either.
God bless you today and always.