Violence transforming mission

Love

Jesus said, “I give you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, so you also must love each other. This is how everyone will know that you are my disciples, when you love each other.” John 13:34-35

Martin Luther King, Jr, in A Testament of Hope writes, “I have decided to stick to love…Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

Think about those words for a minute.

Read Part 1, Part 2, and/or Part 3.

We don’t have to look to far to find Jesus offered similar words,  “You have heard that it was said, you must love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who harass you so that you will be acting as children of your Father who is in heaven.” – Matthew 5:43-45

In his sermon “Love Your Enemies” King notes,

Now there is a final reason I think that Jesus says, “Love your enemies.” It is this: that love has within it a redemptive power. And there is a power there that eventually transforms individuals. Just keep being friendly to that person. Just keep loving them, and they can’t stand it too long. Oh, they react in many ways in the beginning. They react with guilt feelings, and sometimes they’ll hate you a little more at that transition period, but just keep loving them. And by the power of your love they will break down under the load. That’s love, you see. It is redemptive, and this is why Jesus says love. There’s something about love that builds up and is creative. There is something about hate that tears down and is destructive. So love your enemies.

Is love an appropriate response to the violence we experience today?

For me, to daily live in thought, word, and deed the love of God made known in Jesus Christ is the mark of true discipleship.  For me that means that love is an appropriate response to the violence of our day.  It is also the strength of vital congregations, the goal of spiritual formation, the hope for which we live. The love of God made known in Jesus Christ can be embodied today through your actions, your words, and your thoughts. Growing communities that are centered upon such love can address the violence of our day.

Modern day prophets like Martin Luther King, Jr. remind us of these truths. He writes in A Testament of Hope, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

Where do we find the courage and desire to love each other?

Our hope is in Jesus who gives us the ability to love each other as he loves us.  It is by loving one another that we show the world that we belong to Jesus. Our courage to love comes from our willingness to engage in a life-changing relationship with Jesus. It goes without saying that the love we are talking about is based upon God’s love for us.  Our love for those around us grows out of the love we experience and know through Jesus Christ.

Is love an appropriate response to the violence we experience today?

May your thoughts, words, and actions bear the mark of true discipleship. And may they be overflowing with love.

-Tim Bias

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