Who Is the Christian to Love?

I’m coming off a week of discussion at another blog where I tried to make the case that a Christian is to behave the way Christ called us to behave.

Sadly I made the same fatal error in my first comment that I made a couple months ago when I got kicked off a different blog for trying to convince the proprietor it was wrong to malign others (in that case, another Christian). My error was to react by speaking the truth without love.

How ironic that the main thrust of my argument became this: God’s guiding principle for our relationships is love. I who wanted to be faithful to Scripture did not follow Scripture in defending it.

I hope I don’t have to get kicked off any more blogs or withstand rancorous name-calling mockery before this lesson stays home.

Who is the Christian to love?

I’ll answer with another question. Who did Christ love?

  • “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son …” (Jn 3:16a)
  • “Jesus knowing that His hour had come that He would depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end (Jn 13:1).
  • “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (Jn 13:34-35).
  • “He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him” (Jn 14:21).
  • “but so that the world may know that I love the Father, I do exactly as the Father commanded Me” (Jn14:31a).
  • “Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love” (Jn 15:9)
  • “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends” (Jn 15:12-13).
  • If I did the same kind of study in the other gospels, I’d find Jesus’s instructions about loving our neighbor and loving our enemies, even those who persecute and mistreat us. I’d find stories that illustrate loving the lost, the wayward, the prodigal. I’d find Jesus’s own example of forgiving those who crucified Him.

    Some people point to Jesus’s harsh words to the Pharisees as evidence that we are therefore allowed to speak harshly to false teachers. However, Jesus was concerned about the Pharisees’ spiritual state. He never spoke harshly to them because he didn’t like the color of their robes. He didn’t speak harshly to them because they had leprosy or were short or gave taxes to Caesar.

    He reserved His wrathful actions and statements for their open disobedience to the Law (buying and selling in the temple), their blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (Jesus cast out demons by Satan’s power), and their hypocrisy (coming to be baptized without “bear[ing] fruit in keeping with repentance”).

    I’m sure that’s not an exhaustive list, but here’s the point. Jesus was bold in calling sin, sin when it came to the people who thought they were without sin. But He lived a life of servant-hood.

    He gave the time of day to people who were pushed aside and disrespected by most of society. He also sought out the rich and powerful whose hearts were hungry for the Bread of Life. He wasn’t a respecter of persons.

    He didn’t hesitate to tell Peter off when he was blowing it (Get behind me, Satan), but He didn’t stop loving him, didn’t stop serving him.

    Who, then, is the Christian to love? I’m pretty convinced I’m to love whoever God brings across my path—in my physical world and in cyberspace. In real life the consensus seems to be that it is harder to love those we know best. In cyberspace it might be harder to love those faceless strangers with whom we disagree.

    Published in: on August 9, 2010 at 5:24 pm  Comments (5)  
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    1. You make some fine points here. Christians are called to love everyone. I actually enjoy the “faceless strangers” of cyberspace. I have tried to reach out often, especially when I disagree. I find it easier to feel love toward those people I guess because they can “kick me off their blogs” or confront me with unkind words and I don’t feel threatened in anyway since it is unlikely that I’ll ever come face to face with them. I just come back with kindness or as respectful truth as I can muster and hope a heart or mind is softened. And if not I can just move on.

      Tossing It Out


    2. Great post and scriptures.

      I guess my position is that cyberspace is real life. I’m talking to real people when I am in cyberspace. If Paul could love and speak with congregations he’d never met, I think we can love and speak with people we’ve never met. There are some people on the Internet I’ve talked with for over a decade. Some I respect, some I don’t. Some I love easily, some I struggle with. But they are quite real.

      No, I can’t see them in their own homes and know what they are like in person, but I believe I know people I’ve spoken with in depth via the written word better than I know most of the people at church. I think I know some of the people on the Internet better than I know my elders, even.

      Even if I’ve never seen their faces, I’ve seen their hearts better than many of the people I know in real life.


    3. Lee, I like your perspective. I don’t feel threatened, certainly, but I do get mad and it’s much harder for me to treat others with respect when I’m mad.

      The interesting thing—at the site in question, a number of commenters apparently think it’s fine to be rude to certain people, namely false teachers. Of course that begs the question: Who is a false teacher? They could say I’m a false teacher for saying Christians are to treat all men (even false teachers) with consideration. Therefore, by their understanding, they can call me names with impunity. These are the times, I guess, when you do have to walk away. Some things are spiritually discerned and only the Holy Spirit can open blind eyes.



    4. Sally, I agree with you about discussions with people you have over and over. It’s the “first time encounters,” and the ones that probably aren’t going to be long term, that give me trouble.

      I’ve said before, it’s much like being in a car. It’s too easy to forget that a real person is behind the wheel of that big boat with the tinted windows that just cut me off. 😡

      And before you know it, I’ve said something I’ll regret later, especially if my comment generates any real conversation.

      But God is teaching me.




    5. I recently wrote a song about the Prodigal Son. This is my testimony of God’s amazing grace in my life. If you have a sec here it is. Thanks for listening


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