June 9 I Tuesday
2 Chronicles 32-33
“A new command I give you: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.” —John 13:34-35
Jesus warned His disciples that faithfulness to Him will not equal to popularity with the world, and He certainly experienced this first hand. Isaiah 53:3 tells us, “He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.” We do not seek to be rejected and despised, but it may come, and in our witness for Christ, we need to be sure of why it comes.
Luke 4:22 tells us of Jesus, “All spoke well of Him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from His lips.” Toward the end of His ministry, we are told, “The large crowd listened to Him with delight” (Mark 12:37). Jesus did not delight in enemies, only friends, but He accrued many enemies who loathed Him enough to plot His death. These were His own people, the people of God and members of the Sanhedrin Council, the highest Jewish authority under Roman rule.
The problem comes when hostility begins with the people of God toward those outside of Christ, especially those whose sin we identify for special condemnation. I talked to a young homosexual man whose only experience of Christianity had been rejection and hostility; there was no love, compassion or even an attempt to understand him. On another occasion, someone said to me regarding a difficult neighbour, “Well, at least they know what we stand for.” I thought to myself, but did not have the courage to say it aloud, “Perhaps they do know what you stand for, but do they know that you love them?” Love is what penetrates the heart, not the things we stand for.
Jesus said to the religious leaders of His day, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the Kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did” (Matthew 21:31-32). The tax collectors and prostitutes led the way to the kingdom of God because they knew Jesus loved them. It was the common people who heard Him gladly because they saw and felt His heart.
As Christians, we are indwelt by the Spirit of Christ, and given the capacity to love as Jesus loved. Criticism, condemnation and judgment will only prompt greater dissention. Jesus Himself said, “For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world” (John 12:47). We must accept hostility and resentment when it comes, but not fight fire with fire. Rather love the people, not because we are championing a cause, but because the heart that loves is the heart of Christ and Christ lives in us.
Prayer: Dear Jesus, I pray for a heart like Yours. Grant me the capacity to love all people as You do. Thank You, Lord.