By Robert Halsey Pine
“Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action. And by this we will know that we are from the truth and will reassure our hearts before him whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have boldness before God; and we receive from him whatever we ask, because we obey his commandments and do what pleases him.” (1 John 3:18–4:6 NRSV).
How can we possibly love everyone? We say that we can’t, but that is what we are called to do. God loves all of His children, so why can’t we love each other? Jesus spoke to the disciples in this way by saying (Matthew 5:43-48 NRSV), “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.”
Jesus went on to challenge His disciples by telling them that if they only love those who love them and greet only their brothers and sisters, they have no reward. He reminds them that even the Gentiles and the tax collectors are doing that much. John is telling the Church in his first letter that we must live out our love for one another. Our love cannot be cloistered.
It must be put to the test. Our speech and words cannot be trusted. The truth must be in us and our love must come from our hearts.
I remember reading or hearing a commentary several years ago about “Yes People.” Unfortunately I don’t remember the source, but the gist of it was this: There are “Yes People” and “No People.” Even when we pass a stranger on the sidewalk, we can usually detect if they are a “Yes” person or a “No” person. There is something about their demeanor and look that says they are accepting or not. Our love for one another or lack of it can be seen without us saying a word. Our look and our attitude can give us away.
Will our hearts condemn us because we are not from the truth? Can we have boldness before God? Are we obeying God’s commandments and doing what pleases Him? We are called to love our neighbors and some of our neighbors are our enemies. As we move about in our daily lives, are we seen as “Yes People?”
Robert Halsey Pine was born at Newark, Ohio in 1943. He is a graduate of Northeastern University and completed the program of Theological Education by Extension: Education for Ministry, School of Theology, the University of the South.