This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins (1 John 4:10).
Christ commanded us to love one another. Gospels and epistles have the theme of great love reinforced over and over again. Love is central to the Christian faith and the Christian way of life. We have to love the brothers, we have to love the sisters and love everyone in between. We are called to love beyond words and speech but with actions and in truth (1 John3:18).
No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us (1 John 4:12).
But what does this command demand of us? The clearest model of what love demands is shown by Jesus Christ. True love lays itself down and gives until all is given away for the sake of the object on whom the love is bestowed. Love isn’t love, without sacrifice.
People are different, vibrant and unique. Christians are often a bunch of misfits figuring out how to fit into one body. We have each got our own personal struggles, our own daily dose of troubles and our own accounts and affairs that demand our attention. Yet we are called to uphold others around us, to meet the needs of those who are needy, lacking or weakening. We can’t answer this calling without love.
Let’s be real. Life gets complex and sometimes it gets stuck. It is a labour of love to accept each other and to roll with the punches we get dealt with. Especially when the punches are delivered by someone we are called to love. When people fail us, hurt us, harm us or even disappoint us, how do we respond?
Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. (1 Peter 3:9)
The Bible calls us to love. Love costs sacrifice. Brothers and sisters aren’t perfect. Yet we are called to love them so we do. Hurt is inevitable. Yet, when we get hurt, we can’t respond in violence to hurt them back. Therein lies the wonder.
Love always leads to forgiveness and reconciliation. The reason we are forgiven is, because of God’s love. No matter what we did, The Holy God Almighty, the Ancient of days, the Great I am, loved us (liars, murderers, thieves and cheats) so much so that, this great love compelled Him to sacrifice everything till we were pardoned. In the same way, as we live among our brethren, our families, our spouses, children or parents, issues, insults, hurts and problems will crop up. But if we truly love them, our actions will always lead us into forgiveness and reconciliation.
When forgiveness has been doled out instead of punishment, when blessing has been uttered in response to curses, it also pays to remember that love is neither self-seeking nor does it keep track of wrongs done. This gentle reminder is a powerful wonder making tool that will help families to grow strong bonds, marriages to flourish, churches to stay united and for people to thrive. The message here can be summed up simply as “Love leads to forgiveness and forgiveness leads to blessing.”