Seek to Show Love

Romans 12:9-11, 13 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

I once believed that I loved my neighbor because I didn’t go out my way to hate or hurt them.  But what I was really doing was avoiding contact. If I avoided contact with the undesirables and unlovable neighbors, I could count that as love. What it really was when you got to the core; was tolerance.  In my tolerance I avoided what made them the person that they were.  Even though I didn’t abuse them, I didn’t respect their differences enough to serve them in love.   God calls us to something more than cohabitation. God calls us into a family, a community of believers that are motivated by a higher standard. “Outdo one another in showing honor” and “seek to show hospitality” suggest something Christ like for Christians to walk in obedience to. If avoidance was the way, then salvation would not be ours. Or it would give us an uninvolved God who is never home when we call.  Some would say that it feels that way but why complain because it is a disconnected association we scream for.  But we are the unlovable and undesirables, yet God came down and lived as a man. Yet Jesus lived the life God demands and he paid the price we owed. In exchange, Jesus gave us everything when our hands were closed and our hearts were hard. Jesus sought after us; Jesus found us and simply revealed God’s love.  Jesus reveals love, a love that is given graciously over and over while we continue to fall short.  Jesus didn’t avoid us or our needs but he revealed how much more needy we really are. Jesus laid himself aside to love us first before we knew that we would fall in love with him. Yet at times we play the prostitute turn housewife married to the lovesick husband. We long to return to the pimp and reject unconditional love of Jesus.  I have heard the saying “love don’t pay the bills”, maybe not the kind of love we give as sinners.  The love Jesus gives canceled a debt that was from eternity to eternity.  We are to love this way because that’s how God loves us. With all our tolerance we have yet to seek to love. With all our lofty ideas of the golden rule, we haven’t begun to keep it and nor will we ever because we can’t without Jesus doing it for us. Purposely not hating is twice as bad because it does not love and it disobeys God. Tolerance reduces the image bears of God to a principle, a culture or stereotype.  The type of love we want makes people into objects; our tolerance kills a person’s identity.  Scriptures tells us to love because God first loved us.  God loves us before we have done anything and even if we did something he would still love us regardless.  We get all the love we need from God so we can now give that same love to others.  Even our good deeds that we do to try and earn love are still tainted with sins in the face of God’s holiness.  We would love our neighbors if they loved us first or did something for us but Jesus says what good is that?

Matthew 5:43-48

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, andsends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:43-48, ESV)

If that is how we love and if that is how we see love, what hope is there?  Think of this, when someone asks you why you love them and you give them a list of the things that they do for you as your reason.  If you give a list of acts that they perform that make you feel special.  If you give them a list of ways they puff you up and validate your existence and you call it loving you, what would happen if they could no longer do those things for you?  What if sickness struck or something happens to confine them to a bed or wheel chair?  What happens to the love you felt?  If we are to imitate Christ in all things, He didn’t love us in this way.  True love is one way; true love serves with no thought of itself.  True love trusts its care to the author of its existence, the Heavenly Father.

“The genuine work of love is always a hidden work.”

“If we want to know our own goodness or love, it has already ceased to be love.”

“Genuine love is always self-forgetful in the true sense of the word.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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