Just as people in offices, factories, government, and military, wear badges to show that they belong there we as Christians have a badge too. Our badge is love. Wear the badge of love proudly so that the world can see that you belong to Christ.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NIV Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
There are three major kinds of love identified by three Greek words; eros, phileo, and agape.
We are most familiar with eros love, or romantic love.
As its name indicates, eros is passionate or sexual love (eros is the source of the English word erotic). The second major kind of love is phileo the Greek word for friendship love.
Phileo refers to brotherly love and is most often exhibited in a close friendship. Best friends will display this generous and affectionate love for each other as each seeks to make the other happy.
Agape is the most powerful, noblest type of love. Agape is sacrificial love. Agape love is more than a feeling—it is an act of the will. This is the kind of love that can be commanded and controlled or directed by the mind and will of the person who chooses to love.
This is the love that God has for His people and that prompted the sacrifice of His only Son, Jesus, for our sins.
This entire series has been about love, agape love, the kind of love that God has for mankind, and the kind of love that He wants us to have for each other. I'm going to end this series with this post. If we internalize my previous posts and allow the Holy Spirit to operate in us we can love like God loves. When we love like God loves we can even love the disagreeable and unlovable.
Called to Love
We’ll never completely agree with another person on everything. Not even our spouse or best friend. Of the nearly eight billion people in the world right now, there’s not a single person like you. That means there won’t be anyone with your exact viewpoint on life, politics, money, relationships, or religion. You are uniquely you, and so is the person next to you.
Even though we're all different, we can still love others. Why is it important to love people when we clearly don’t see eye to eye with? Because Jesus said so.
John 13:34-35 NIV “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
When Jesus commanded us to love others, He didn’t say that we had to agree with them first. So, what does love look like?
Love considers others first.
Love looks for the best.
Love shows respect.
Love seeks unity.
Love isn’t selfish.
Love offers the best.
Love displays patience.
Loving others involves pain. Love means giving of yourself. Love means putting your heart out for someone to potentially wound. Love means being selfless and thinking about the needs of others before we think of our own. We'll never love someone without discomfort accompanying it. It isn't easy and is sometimes unnatural, but loving others is something we’re called to do as followers of Jesus. Even with those we don’t agree. Especially those with which we don’t agree.
Matthew 5:43-48 NIV “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
There will always be things we have to “agree to disagree on.” It could be the way we do our finances—some of us choose to live debt free, others don’t. It could be when we decide to start or end our day—some of us are early to bed, while others stay up late. Or it could be more serious differences that concern politics, social issues, or current events. Loving others while disagreeing with them at the same time is possible.
Romans 12:9-17, 19-21 NIV Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Let’s Choose the Big Picture
It’s no secret that our world seems more divided than ever. Whether it’s political parties that can’t agree on a nation’s budget or religious groups that spew hatred toward each other, there always seems to be a tension in the relational, spiritual, and political climate of our world.
Loving people because Jesus called us to, showing respect by managing our demeanor, avoiding fruitless arguments, and empathizing with others to see life from their lens are all wise and helpful approaches. It seems too difficult a task to put differences aside, but it isn’t.
We could pre-decide that we’re going to choose people over policies and relationships over rules. What if…
...we exhibited patience?
...we chose not to be offended?
...we quit taking everything so personally?
..we changed the degrading way we talk to others?
...we focused on what we did have in common?
...we chose the big picture?
Let’s not forget that God so loved...the world.
John 3:16-18 NIV For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
Every single soul on this planet, past, present, and future, He loves. While we’ll never have His capacity to love people, we are still called to love others.
1 John 4:19-21 NIV We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.
Followers of Jesus can’t quote enough Bible verses to force someone to believe in Jesus. What we can do is represent Jesus by showing love, respect, and empathy, all covered with equal parts truth and grace.
At the end of the day, the point of loving people we disagree with is unity. Whether the issue is petty or prominent, we can choose people first. Because if we, as followers of Jesus, want people to know our Savior and Lord the way we do, that’s where we have to start. Let’s represent Jesus well so that others want to know Him. And when they do, the Holy Spirit is quite capable of leading them to adjust any viewpoints that are inconsistent with His truth.