“…we should love one another.” I John 3:11b
My generation grew up in a time when the word “love” was tossed around like a bag of chips. Peace and love were the theme of the Vietnam War era on college and high school campuses across the country. Yet love seemed always out of reach: because of social division; political unrest; the advancing liberal agenda on sexuality in the media; the growing drug epidemic; and the earliest signs of the breakdown of our most sacred link in the chain of society – the home. One of the popular songs of that day had the mantra of: “If you can’t be with the one you love… then love the one you’re with.” The institutions of marriage, home and family, the church, and even government were crumbling… leading to today’s reality of more than 50% of marriages ending in divorce; a marginalized church, shrinking in numbers; and an unrestrained, undisciplined federal leviathan that gobbles up more of our freedoms with each passing year.
Still… John’s words echo through the centuries, that we should love, not in word but in deed. John clarifies this new commandment given by the Lord (Jn. 15:12) through examples found in the sacred texts. He began with what love does NOT look like: the story of how Cain murdered his brother. (Ge.4:1-16) The example strikes at the center of society… within one’s family. John reiterates to the readers not to be surprised when the world demonstrates hate and rejection toward followers of Jesus Christ, demonstrating the same hatred shown by Cain’s actions… which serves to remind Christians to count the cost of being a disciple of Christ. In Paul’s words, while we live, we live in Christ, and to die in Christ will be all the better (the reward of heaven). (Read Ro.14:8; Pp.1:21) Those who hate as Cain do not receive the joy of heaven… only the judgment before God. (v.15)
John instructs us to love, not just in words, but with actions. (v.18) Love is a verb… it is always active… and it will always be demonstrated through sacrificial acts toward others. Just as Christ laid down his life for us, so we lay down our lives for each other, even by sharing of our possessions materially. (v.’s 16-18)
Our nation has recently been devastated by hurricanes in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico. It has stretched our government’s resources to the breaking point to address the devastation… but it has only served to strengthen the charity within our hearts to be present and offer aid to our fellow citizens. Men with flat bottom boats from Louisiana helped rescue people in the flooded Texas neighborhoods. National guard personnel and first responders have risen to the call for those in Florida and Puerto Rico. Yes, there is still much to do, and churches and parachurch organizations like Samaritan’s Purse are working together to plan relief efforts for years to come. We are demonstrating the love that comes from the very foundations of our country… a Christian worldview. Though the catastrophic damage is severe, it is refreshing to see our citizens – many who are quick to point to their faith in Christ – being the hands and feet of restoration… showing God’s love in very practical ways to those in need.
My we exercise every possible opportunity to make a difference in the lives affected by these unprecedented storms by our continued efforts to not only pray, but to work in offering remediation to those who need our help so desperately. Join a crew that will offer water and meals to the devastated areas, or a work crew to help clear debris, or even join teams that will go to assist in rebuilding these areas. And give of your possessions, especially by giving to responsible organizations that will use funds you give to make a difference.
This is not a time for us to sit back and watch… our brothers and sisters needs us. Please don’t be satisfied with a one-time monetary gift. Keep these communities in your prayers, and seek ways to be a part of addressing their needs in the years to come.