Loving Your Enemies Does Not Preclude Loving Your Friends

Jesus put love pretty high up in his list of priorities for human flourishing. The biggest problem is that he said to actually do it. Look how one of his friends summarized his message:

1Jn 3:18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

John, is talking about love for other Christians, which is easy to snarkily ignore.* This is super relevant in light of certain habits of talking in Christian circles. A lot of Christians will mock other Christians who disagree with them politically or philosophically in the name of fitting in with the non-Christian group they are closest too in temperament. Btw, I do not merely mean that some Christians clearly bested others in careful argument and through in a rhetorically powerful jab. I mean, they literally make fun of each other.

I could give examples, but for the time being I would rather not draw extra attention to a behavior that makes us look bad.

Mike Cernovich, as far as I know, does not claim to he a Christian. He certainly is not known for being nice to his enemies, but he does shame many Christians in his relationship to his friends:

Your life is the sum total of your activities and the people in your life. Be useful to other people. Find ways to meet market demands. Be good to your friends.

When is the last time you emailed a friend to say, “How can I help you?”

His question points to an important aspect of Jesus’ command to love our enemies. Jesus asks, “If you love those who love you, what reward do you have?”(Matthew 5:37). Many Christians seem to take this as a sign that Christian virtue does not include love for the Christian in-group. But Jesus elsewhere intensifies the love Christians are to have for one another, “…just as I have loved you, so you are to love one another” (John 13:34). So, while Christians are to love even their enemies, Jesus takes the time in John’s gospel to intensify the level of love Christians show to one another. In other words, Jesus isn’t denigrating love for family or other Christians in Matthew, he is instead showing that it is a starting point for becoming like God in his concern for human well being.

So, what are you doing for other Christians lately? Have you emailed somebody just to ask them how you can help them meet a need, become more successful, or overcome a challenge? Have you called your pastor and asked how you can pray for him? Have you looked at the budget report for your church and tried to shore up weaknesses? How about cleaning the parking lot? While such gestures are not the sum total of Christian morality, according to Jesus they are the litmus test, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34).

 

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1 Comment

  1. Pingback: A Continuum of Loving | Chris Borah

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