“If someone claims, ‘I love God,’ but hates his brother or sister, then he is a liar. Anyone who does not love a brother or sister, whom he has seen, cannot possibly love God, whom he has never seen. He gave us a clear command, that all who love God must also love their brothers and sisters” (1 John 4:20-21).
That’s one of those verses that most of us wishes wasn’t in the Bible. Maybe if John had said “anyone who does not try to love a brother or sister,” then it would have been a lot easier to swallow.
But as my pastor says, Jesus never gives us an out when it comes to obedience. We’re never given the okay to be disobedient.
Even when the other person is hard to get along with? Yes.
Even when the other person does and says hateful things? Yes.
Even when it seems beyond our capacity to love that person? Yes.
If it seems too hard, remember that God loved you while you were His enemy and set against everything He stood for. Plus, it’s not really your love that you love these people with anyway.
It goes like this. Jesus fills you up with so much love that you can’t contain it all and it splashes onto those around you. Even those people who aren’t your favorites.
The key isn’t to grit your teeth, eat your Wheaties, and try harder when it comes to loving these people. The secret is spending more time with Jesus, enough time for His love to really soak in. And while you’re with Jesus, you could pray for these people, because it’s hard to keep hating someone after you’ve been fervently praying for them.
Oh, and by praying for them, I don’t mean praying for the earth to swallow them up or for them to get hit by a bus. You pray for them like you pray for those you love– that they will know and understand the love God has for them, that they find healing from the people who wounded them in the past, and that they prosper and succeed.