How do you do with loving your enemies? The notion that we ought to show kindness, generosity, forgiveness, and even love for those who hate us or purposefully try to harm us is a hard concept to grasp. That love is the love of Jesus, who gave himself for us…
13 This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
What is the evidence that we are living in God and he in us? The Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives provides us with the proof. We have seen this before in John’s writing. If we acknowledge Jesus as the Son of God, we have the Holy Spirit in us. If we have the Holy Spirit in us, then we love people like Jesus loved people. If we don’t love, then we have to back and question whether we even know God at all.
God is love, John writes. We cannot escape the connection between God and love. And anyone who loves is showing their connection to God. Now, lots of people love others who don’t follow Jesus. Isn’t that a bit of a loaded statement to say that God has a corner on the love market?
Here’s where God’s love is different. God’s love for us went to the point where he sent Jesus, his son, to die as a sacrifice for people who had alienated themselves from God, effectively making God their enemies. Jesus died for his enemies. He washed the feet of Judas, who betrayed him. John says we are like Jesus in the world.
The love of Jesus is different from the love of the world in that we ought to be sacrificing ourselves for people who hate us. Loving people in the face of hatred is a godly love. It’s Jesus’ love.
It’s not a love that creates or succumbs to fear and punishment. It’s a love that overcomes fear and punishment, hatred and division, and builds community and oneness. That’s a different kind of love.
I want to live in that love today.