We're getting ready to have a Ladies' Retreat at Cedar Creek next weekend and the theme is "Love Rocks!" We're going to watch and discuss four videos on how to love four different types of people: Joy, Testy, Foe, and Far. Joy is the person that's easy to love. Testy is that person who is sometimes difficult to love because of selfishness, irritability, or simply a lack of character. Foe is your outright enemy; someone you just do not get along with at all. And Far is the person representing the mission field; that vast number of people all over the world that need Jesus but who seem too far away for us to make a difference.
Why, after all this time, do we still need to talk about, study, and discuss how to love one another? We all know we're supposed to do it. We know Jesus modeled it perfectly and called His followers to do it. We know it's what sets the church apart from the world and makes us light. Yet we struggle.
Jesus said, "By this all people will know that you are My disciples: if you have love for one another." So it stands to reason that if we do not have love for one another (love that is evident), people will not know that we are His disciples. If the devil can get us to harbor unforgiveness and bitterness; if he can entice us to gossip and backbite; when we don't reach out in love to others who are hurting because we are too busy, then we cease to look different from the world and our witness is lost. Satan works overtime on this one. If he keeps Christians from loving each other and the lost, he doesn't have to do much else. We become completely ineffective for the cause of Christ.
Jesus gave the command to love one another when He was on earth. He called it "a new commandment". You'd think He wouldn't have had to give such a command even then, but He did. Then John reminds us of the command in 1 John 2:7, only he called it an old commandment, because by then it was. But the Christians he was writing to obviously needed reminding. And so do we. Because to love difficult and faraway people takes intentionality. It simply does not come naturally to us. We need reminders and we need repeated looks at the life of Jesus. He loved perfectly. All the time. And people were attracted to Him because of it. He was light in a dark world. And that's what He has called us to be.
And so we study love; the new, old, and most important commandment. (Mark 12:29-31)