“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another. John 15:12-17
I think most of us would give up our own life in order to save the lives of our children or our spouse. We would also do the same for other family members, a brother or sister for example. We also hear of people who have sacrificed themselves for friends and even strangers. But how many of us would give up our life for a murderer or a rapist or a child molester? You could put me in the group that would not be willing to make that particular sacrifice.
Jesus however did not make any distinctions. He laid His life down for every person who ever walked the earth. God does not just love the righteous, which is good for me. On my best day I fall far short of righteousness. No, God loves each and every one of His creation. It is hard for us to understand but God loves the Hitler’s and Stalin’s of the world just as much as He loves you and me. He loves every sinner and He wants every sinner to come to Him. Let me say that one more time, He loves every sinner. There is nothing we can ever do that Jesus’ death and resurrection cannot cover and wash away as if it had never happened.
This past Sunday we attended a new church in Marshall Texas, The Heights Church, with our son who goes to college there. The pastor talked about love. One thing he mentioned that resonated with me is how we often say we love the sinner but hate the sin. What he said to that was that we are called to love everyone. We are not called to hate. When we love the sinner and hate the sine we are putting a condition on our love because there is something about that person we do not love. In doing that we pass judgment as if we were free of sin. God loved us so much he forgets our sins. He does not hate them He forgets them, He forgives then and He forgets them.
That is the kind of love we are called to have with everyone. I don’t know about you but I fall way short of that type of love. I am more likely to ignore rather than love. I find it hard to love people who do not like me back or who do things I don’t approve of, but God loves my even when I do things He does not approve of, He just loves me unconditionally. That is the love we need to strive for. We will never bring the lost into the flock by indifference, hate, argument or reason. We can only bring them to the Shepherd by love. His love and our love. Without love we are just a loud clanging noise.
Have a blessed day,