Love. People seem to talk a lot about love when there is much conflict, and there is much conflict these days. It’s post-Presidential election and the conflict has only gotten worse. We fight about whether we fight against terrorists or if we fight against various degrees of Islam, all of this in the name of love of country. Police are killing citizens, citizens are killing police, citizens are killing citizens. Some argue about which color lives matter while others say we need to just love one another, sometimes they say both at the same time. To top it all off, its football season. Lest you think that is an attempt at lightening the mood, which it is, it’s also the source of very serious conflict as long as players take a knee during the national anthem. Some people express their love for these players while other a profound lack of love. While studying to teach 2 Peter 1:2-11 which was written to Christians living in a world in conflict, I read about love. As I was pondering love, a new-to-me thought popped into my head; love, for its part, has no enemies.
What Is Love?
To be clear, we believers do have an enemy; Satan. There are those on this earth who see us believers as an enemy. A social enemy, a political enemy, even as a military enemy. Believers, who are supposed to embody God’s love, have enemies, for their part. But, love, and those who are governed by God’s love, does not.
The word used for “love” in 2 Peter 1:7 is the Greek word agape. If you’ve been around church and sermons you’ve probably heard agape defined as God’s love, or divine love. While that is true, it’s more broad and more specific than that at the same time. Jesus uses this word in what is probably the best known verse in the Bible, John 3:16 which begins, “For God so (or in this way) loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son.” Interestingly, Jesus also uses agape in John 3:19 which says “men loved darkness rather than light.” How can that be? How can the word for God’s love also be used to describe humanity’s love of darkness?
Love Is Completely Given Over
Have you ever known an addict? Could be drugs, alcohol, gambling, porn, shopping (seriously), doesn’t matter. Think about how far a desperate addict goes to get his fix. He will sacrifice his friends, his family, his job, his home, all to get the fix that he loves. He is completely given over to the wellbeing of the thing that he loves. He will go to any length to acquire it. Isn’t that what God did for us? He gave up His Son, whom He loved, so that we who are condemned could be saved. Jesus was completely given over for us.
Love is completely given over to the wellbeing of the other, whatever that other is. Since that is the case, love has no enemies. Why? Because if you don’t feel completely given over to the wellbeing of the other, then you don’t love them.
Love Is Also A Sign
A sign of what? Of, well, love. According to Jesus,
- “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” John 15:13. Love lays itself down.
- “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:3. Love has more of itself for others.
- Jesus, on the cross, is the sign of God’s love for us. (John 3:16, Romans 5:8, Galatians 2:20, Ephesians 5:2, and 1 John 4:10 to name a few.) Love demonstrates itself.
It’s that last one that’s most relevant here. See, if we are followers of Jesus, Jesus’ mission is our mission. His message is our message. His mindset is our mindset. Jesus died for people who saw Him as their enemy, but Jesus didn’t see them as His enemy. From Jesus’ perspective, He had no enemies. If that’s the case, neither should we.
- Republicans aren’t our enemies. Neither are Democrats nor members of any other party.
- The police aren’t our enemies, neither are other citizens.
- Terrorists aren’t our enemies, nor anyone else who would do us harm.
- These aren’t our enemies; they are our mission.
The list could go on, but that might do more harm than good.
My point really isn’t a point, it’s a question. Well, it’s your answer to a question. Well, it’s what you need to process through in order to get to your answer to the question. (Get on with it already, Corby!) What is the question?
Who do you see as your enemy, and what needs to change in you for you to see them as Jesus does; your mission?
[bctt tweet=”Who do you see as your enemy, and what needs to change in you for you to see them as Jesus does; your mission?” username=”corbystephens”]
Technically, that’s two questions. Oh well.
At the most fundamental level, we are all human beings created in God’s image. Those who follow Jesus need to first see others as potential Jesus followers, fellow humans for whom Jesus died, and see them as anything else second. Additionally, we need to see ourselves as Jesus followers first, and anything else second. If we can do that rightly, we can love others rightly, as God does; without an agenda, and without seeing others as an enemy.
Because love, for its part, has no enemy.
[reminder]Who do you see as your enemy, and what needs to change in you for you to see them as Jesus does; your mission?[/reminder]