Part V of “Working Thoughts in These Days”.
Love Your Neighbor
“We love because he first loved us. Those who say, ‘I love God,’ and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.” 1 John 4:19-21
I have been praying over the meaning of neighbor love since I began seeing it pop up regularly, and with disparate interpretations of what actions truly represent loving our neighbor. There is also an implied judgment on those who do not agree with any particular interpretation.
As I prayed, I was given the following:
Christ is love.
Christ proves his love on the cross.
We are called to love.
We are called to the cross.
When I say “you must” so that I may live—I do not love.
When I say “you must not” so that I may live—I do not love.
When I say “I need to live and my mortal life is most important”—I do not love.
When I say “you must limit your life” so that I may live—I do not love.
When I say “my financial life is more important than your life”—I do not love.
If I do not love, I am not in Christ, and he is not in me.
When I see all human life as important as my own—I love.
When I no longer say “you must do” or “you must not do” so that I may live—I love.
When I am willing to suffer so that you may have fullness of life without reference to my own life—I love.
When I am willing to die so that you may live—I love.
When I love, I am in Christ, and he is in me.
This is the paradox of the cross we are called to bear: only by laying aside our own lives do we really live. Here we find our true life is hidden in Christ.
As Christ chose to lay down his life, so we must make that choice.
What would this world look like if I were willing to die for you, and you were willing to die for me?
That would be to love our neighbor.
Without Christ we turn to politics, materialism, and other ideologies to impose our will so that our lives will be saved. Only Christ can save our lives. Only Christ is love.