“If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.
If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.
If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.” – I Corinthians 13:1-3, The Message Bible.
It amazes and saddens me to see and hear about how many hateful acts are perpetuated in the name of religion. Looking closely at the teachings of Jesus Christ, you see that the central tenets of his message revolve around love.
“God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son…” (John 3:16)
“Love the Lord your God with all you heart, all your soul and all your might..”
“Love your neighbor as yourself..” (Matt 22:37-39)
The gospel message is birthed in, drenched in and fulfilled in love. We can never spread that message authentically, nor can we expect to see long lasting fruit, if we speak out of hatred, pride, superiority or any sort of disdain for our fellow humans.
If one holds true to the tenets of one’s faith, if one is not to compromise based on the social norms of the day, then it is inevitable that doctrinal conflicts will arise between proponents of different religions, and between the religious and the secular-minded folks. How you and I handle these conflicts ought to show who we are, and whether or not we truly follow Christ.
“By this men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another”, said the Lord Jesus. (John 13:35)
Does this mean that I have to agree with, or approve of things that are contrary to my faith or my sincere convicted interpretation of scripture? No, a thousand times no. To love someone is not necessarily to agree with them. It is to decide, despite the disgreement, to show kindness; to endure wrong; to be humble; to seek the well being of the other person.
There is much for us to debate about in our society today: religion, politics, race, sexual orientation, immigration, and so on. You will find committed Christians on many different sides of the respective arguments. Not everyone is right, but the result does not have to be hatred and strife.
I choose to love you, though I disagree with you. That sentence, sincerely lived, can change our world for the better.