It seems we need to continually be reminded of the basic ways we are called to follow where God leads us. Jesus tells us to love our enemies (Matt. 5:44). Jesus tells us that whatever we do, or fail to do, for those who are in need, any need, we do to God (Matt. 25:40). We are supposed to lead others in becoming disciples of Jesus (Matt. 28:19). And if we read the Gospels even once it is clear that Jesus made disciples and cared for the needy, not by force or coercion, but by love and invitation. And yet, we as the modern church seem bent on dominating others into believing like we do, using intimidation or manipulation to convert. Or we resort to expulsion in order to exclude those who might disagree, or be different than us.
When we choose to use Jesus clearing the temple (Mark 11:15) as our model for ministry instead of Jesus touching the leper (Mark 1:41) we are choosing to chase others away instead of touch those in need. It is the easier path, loving and caring for others is hard work, and sometimes you get hurt. Did that stop Jesus? Isn’t that supposed to be our model for ministry too?
Lastly there is this reminder. And it seems like we would only need to read this once to get the point, but maybe we should read it over and over till it sinks in.
“Those who say, “I love God,” and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen.“ 1 John 4:20
It’s harder to love than to hate. If we hate we don’t have to reconcile, we don’t have to forgive, and we don’t have to care. But God has led God’s people in the way of reconciliation, forgiveness and care from the beginning. God’s faithfulness in the Old Testament is no different that Jesus love in the New Testament. So, friends, let us “love one another deeply from the heart.“ (1 Peter 1:22) This is is the work God calls us to do.