Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence. – 1 John 3:18-19
How is it that Jesus could be humble and meek but a king and a leader? How is He both lion and lamb? The answer to that is in his ministry. What is the foundation of Jesus ministry based on? We all know it. We all acknowledge it when it is convenient for us. Sometimes it is hard to do when you do not agree with another person but we have all, as Christians, been called to do it. That is the brotherly love we have for each other and even those who are not saved. It is a love of humanity that even today we still don’t fully grasp. Instead of some booming voice with a form we could not see we were taught by Jesus, in the flesh on what love is. God’s message about the divide between man and Him would not have been as clear had it not been for Christ. This is why His message was so clear. He brought salvation down to our level so that we could understand the importance of not only the ministry of His son but of the love and salvation offered to us.
What Brotherly Love Is Not
I feel a little silly for even addressing this because it is a shameful thing to say to any Christian that you aren’t loving people enough. There isn’t a limit to God’s love but there is to ours. It is very hard for me to find any love whatsoever for a murderer or a rapist. It is the most difficult for me to summon anything even regarding the term “affection” for a child molester. I’ll own that sin and pray that God gives me strength to one day see something redeeming in people like that but for now I have to put it in God’s hands and beg for understanding and grace.
This is where the tolerance that Christians are enamored to use comes in to play. Tolerance is the accepting that someone’s beliefs differs from our own. But there is a slippery slope there. The ability to be over-tolerant is there. When that happens we have taken a tool that God has blessed us with and turned it in to a sin. By being over-tolerant we have done more than politely disagreed, we have accepted the persons beliefs as being truth. We have accepted an untruth for a truth and in doing so we have rejected something that God has deemed true.
Those people are enslaved to those who are not Gods (Galatians 4:8). Understanding what brotherly love is not only frees us from other sins like pride but allows us to do what Jesus did, get down on that persons level and reach them. It hurts my heart when I see over zealous brethren marching with picket signs and calling people ‘freaks’ or ‘perverts’ or ‘faggots’ and other things. They are human and broken, so are you. Just because you have Jesus and salvation doesn’t make you God’s sword to cut people down. It makes you renewed in His image and then you aspire to be in His likeness when you start reaching out to those people. You become a disciple, a banner to what a Christian should be, could be. I have dropped the banner, I did for a decade and He wanted me back no questions asked. It is that grace that drives me to reach out to other men, doesn’t matter what level of brokenness they are dealing with.
What Brotherly Love Is
The idea of brotherly love is a call to go beyond the love you have for your spouse, children and immediate family. This love is the emotional tie you have with those of your community. In context it means fellow Christians but if we are to love fellow Christians as Christ does then that love extends beyond kin and community but to the man on the street who is a homeless veteran begging for handouts. It’s not just for the people that make it to church, they are important but it’s also for the people who are 200 ft away from the church wondering why their life is the way it is. Sometimes all a person needs to hear is, “I love you, God does too.” and other times they are haunted by demons that we may have to help them combat. Brotherly love is about the ability to put yourself next to someone, anyone and show them a kindness that Christ would be proud of.
I can’t help but feel I got a little on a soap box about this topic. I don’t think it is bad, a devotional should be emotional. Good or bad it should affect you in some way. I have a passion to show that everyone deserves to see how much God loves them. I want them to know that fire I feel. We are commanded to love as we are loved with the Golden Rule. How can I do any of that if I can’t get out of the way of myself and out of the way of God’s work. If we are to be the body then how can we knowingly act like He didn’t sit with sinners and love them?