BUT I ... BUT WE ...

How much does God love a person? We all can give the standard church answer! "God loves a person enough: to let His son die for him or her; to forgive his or her sins; to allow anyone to become His son or daughter; to let him or her be part of His family; to 'stick with' the imperfect Christian; to give him or her eternal life in heaven."

How much does God love: your wife when you are very frustrated with her? Your husband when you are very angry at him? Your child when you are very upset with him or her? Your parents when they fail you? Your best friend when he or she has not acted like a best friend? Your boss when the feelings you have for him or her do not fit the concept of love? Your neighbor when he or she is not neighborly?

Let's accurately simplify the question. How much does God love the person who displeases you? How much does God love the person who hurts you?

Will we ever love the displeaser as God does? No. Will we allow God to teach us how to love the displeaser? Yes. The Christian's ability to love the displeaser will always move in the direction of God's love.

Why? "You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. ’But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?" (Matthew 4:43-47, NAS)

An enemy is a true "displeaser." Jesus' teaching: be a positive force for good in the life of the displeaser even when he or she causes you harm. Why? Because your eye is fixed on God, and that is what God does. God does not act like Satan. He does not act like humans or human forces controlled by Satan. If we only love people who love us and only greet people like us, we are no different from the people who are controlled by evil. Our existence is directed by God, not Satan. We are His children, not Satan's!

God's kingdom does not function like anything else on earth. It functions on the will of the God who loved people who opposed Him, who created forgiveness before people repented, who atoned for evil before people turned toward righteousness, who created an inheritance for heirs who had not yet acknowledged Him to be their Father.

People who belong to God do not treat people as does an evil society--not in their families, not their neighbors, not in the store, not on the job, not in the church. People who belong to God live for that life that comes after death, not for the life of right now.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 30 January 2000

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