Going from "How can I love?" to "How can I not love?"
A couple days ago Jennifer Segura talked about community and how she wanted to have like minded friends. God answered her prayer. He brought her and her family to Faith Chapel where she met Pastors Josiah and Ashley. Throughout the years they became closer and even I became a close friend to all four of them. I've become close to thr Seguras, to the point where I look at them more than friends but as a brother and a sister. Mainly because of the likemindedness we have towards God. Ive spent so much time with them that it's easy to love them and their daughters. The key word is "easy". It's easy to love them.
Jesus tells us that it's easy to love those who love you. He says even the sinners love those who love them (Luke 6:32). Jesus doesn't call us to just love those who love us but to love our enemies (Luke 6:27). Jesus was such an anomaly when it came to love. His love went against every natural idea of what love is, and He showed us what Godly love really is.
Love is more than just words but genuine love is an action. Love doesn't sit idly by, love doesn't just go through the motions. Genuine love causes you to act. Love should always be at the center of our hearts and our minds. If God is love (1 John 4:8) and if God is at the center of our hearts and minds, love will also be present since you can't separate God and love.
Love should be the foundation of all that we do. The apostle Paul shares in 1 Corinthians 13, that without love he is nothing. He even says that if he were to give his life and become a martyr but he doesn't have love, than it would profit him nothing. Love may not be crucial to simply claiming the title of a Christian but love is absolutely necessary to being a follower of Christ. Ive once heard it said like this. "A christian who doesn't have love, is the same as an actor who plays a part in a movie." It's not real, it's fake. A Christian who doesn't have love for people is someone just pretending to be a follower of Christ, they are fake.
1 John 4:8 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
Jesus doesn't ask us, He commands us to love.
Matthew 22:37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."
This doesn't mean just to love your friends but everyone. Even the people that you don't want to love. Even the ones who make it hard for you to love them. I've had people in my life who have hurt me and have given me no reason to forgive them. But being someone who has given Jesus no reason to forgive me, and still He chooses to give me what I don't deserve - forgiveness, blows my mind!
I should also forgive and love those who have wronged me. I have been called an "idiot" or "stupid" by those who don't follow Christ and I have been looked at like I am crazy for loving people who don't deserve love. But when you have received a love like the love God has for us you stop asking, "how can I love the people that hate me?" and start telling people "How can I not love the people
that Jesus loves?"
I pray that we would be a church who loves the people that are hated by others. I pray that we would be a people that loves even when people make it hard to love them. If we're aiming to be like Jesus, then lets look at His example of when He was dying on the cross and He was still praying for those who were killing Him.
Luke 23:34 Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” And they divided His garments and cast lots.
This is the love we should have for people. We even see this love in Stephen the first martyr.
Acts 7:59 And they stoned Stephen as he was
calling on God and saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
It's the same love that Jesus had. The kind of love that causes you to pray for your enemies, even as they are killing you.
I thank God that no one is killing us. But we all have people in our lives that hurt us and make it hard to love them. It becomes easier to love them the closer we get to Jesus. What helps me to love people who make it hard to love them, is to think back to who I was before Jesus, and all the anger and hatred and bitterness that was in my heart. The hurt, the pain, the feelings of isolation. All the mistakes I made. Wow, I was lost. But Jesus came and stretched His arms out, reaching down into the darkness that I was in and taking away the sin and shame that I built my identity in. He brought me out of darkness and into His marvelous light. He gave me a new identity and made me into a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). The old things are gone. And all things are made new. And God did all of this out of His love for us. (1 John 4:10) And if God can do this for me, God can do it for anyone. So I stopped asking "how can I love the people that hate me?" And started telling the world "How can I not love the people that Jesus loves?"
Come up with of list of people that have made you angry in the past. People that you don't like to talk to because they make it hard to be around them and make it hard to show love to them. It might be a big list or a small list. But take time out of your day to pray a blessing over them. Pray for Gods favor on their life, and pray that they succeed in what they are doing. If they are not followers of Christ pray that God would encounter them. Pray that God would show them His love. Pray that they would come to know Jesus in a deep and powerful way.
It's hard to be angry at people or even hate someone when you are genuinely praying for them. If it's possible to, connect with them. Take them out for coffee or food. Show them love. A lot of people just need someone to talk to. Invite them to your circle of friends. I know for me, I didn't grow up around a positive community of people. I didn't even know that there was such a thing as a positive community until I met my friends at church. Some people don't even know what a positive group of friends looks like. Spend time with them and treat them with love being that positive community they likely need.
I love you all and pray God blesses you.
-Pastor Michel Espinoza