Godís desire for His followers to love is ancient. Jesus summarized Godís Laws in two requirements: (1) Total love for God and (2) Loving others as self. He said this was the new commandment that demonstrated discipleship. Paul considered Godís expectation in love as (1) an unpayable debt and (2) a better way to declare faith in God. Peter said godly obedience produced heartfelt, fervent love for others. John said it was demonstrated instead of claimed.
All this was written in a hostile environment. Showing love was extremely difficult. The majority of people believed in many gods, not one living God. Societyís moral codes encouraged physical indulgence and excess. The Roman patronage system encouraged greed, lying, gossip, and the deliberate destruction of reputations. Many Jews considered most Gentiles as crude and undesirable. Many Gentiles considered most Jews as arrogant people with weird practices.
Into that environment Christianity was born. It converted people from all these backgrounds and attitudes. Its morality was based on numerous things that included the responsibility to express love. Initially love was shown others because God showed love in sending Jesus Christ. A Christian loved others because they loved Christ, not because those they loved were easy to love.
Today we excuse ourselves from showing love because of doctrinal differences, or moral disagreements, or hardships and suffering experienced, etc. How is a loving God represented through lovelessness?
Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you ... 1 Peter 3:15, (NASB)
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