Several years ago, at an event my ex-brother-in-law was hosting at the Tarrant County Convention Center in Fort Worth, Texas, I met a young man for the first time that upon our meeting looked at me and said, “I love you.” When I think back on that day, I often wonder if the shock and disgust I experienced internally in response to his comment, was in anyway reflected through my facial expression or body language. I remember thinking, “Love me? Seriously, you love me? You don’t even know me! You’re pathetic!”
In my opinion, he was just another Bill Britt groupie who was oblivious to the truth of what life was really like off stage and out of view of the public eye; one of those who referred to the man as a “demigod” and seemed to think that their life would be miraculously changed if only they could come into contact with him; one of those phonies who turned their noses up as they walked past you until they found out you were related to him and then suddenly had to tell you how great you looked and how absolutely beautiful your child was and how much she looked “just like her Uncle Bill”. (I trust that you can now grasp why I was so cynical).
This young man, along with his brothers and sister were inspirational recording artists. They were there performing over the course of the weekend. Little did I realize then, that the groupies were not the only ones who were oblivious that day. I was. I was oblivious. I was completely oblivious to the love this young man was expressing to me that day. I was completely oblivious to the love of Jesus Christ.
1 John 4:19-21 summs it up very well: “We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.” (NIV)
Today, it’s amazing to me to see the responses of so many when I say, “I love you.” Some trip and stutter/mumble and some even fall over and can’t say they love me at all. Some of whom claim to know Christ as their Lord and Savior. It’s sad really, not because I want them to lie or to love me for my sake, but for their own sake. I want them to know the love of Jesus Christ because it’s only through Christ that we are capable of truly knowing love.
Matthew 5:44-45 even tells us “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven”.
WOW! Love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us so that we may be children of our Father in heaven! That would certainly make sense then that we are to love strangers and our brothers and sisters. Hey, this means we’re even required to love the radicals who are murdering Christians and to pray for them.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:43-48 (NIV)
Seriously, if we can’t say the words “I love you” and mean it, how then can we demonstrate love in our families, our churches, our communities, or the world? How can we walk around with bitterness, resentment, jealousy and hatred in our hearts for another and claim to know the love of God when the Word says we can’t?
What’s in your heart? What is your reaction when someone tells you they love you? Do you truly love your brothers and sisters? Do you love perfect strangers? Do you love your enemies? How is that love demonstrated? Do you pray for them? I know. I know. I know I need help in this area.
Father, it is only because you first loved us that we are capable of loving at all. You are love. Help us to not be oblivious to your love. Help us to not stutter, trip and fall. Help us to truly love others the way you would have us love them; including even our enemies. Help us to say, “I love you” to others and mean it wholeheartedly. Help us to impact the lives of others as this young man impacted my life that day. Help us to reflect your love into our families, our churches, our communities, and this hurting world. Help us to seek you and strive for a level of perfection that we can obtain only in you; not because we are righteous but because you are. In Jesus’ precious name, Amen.