Jesus was not big on commandments. His opinion about rules and commandments were reduced to two. Matthew chapter 22 reports Jesus as saying:
‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.
Jesus Issues a New Command
But in his last hours Jesus issued another command. Jesus and his closest disciples were sharing the meal we now call the last supper, and Jesus surprised them by taking a basin and towel and washing their feet like a servant.
Afterward, Jesus told them he would be leaving them and they could not follow. Understandably, this created confusion, but Jesus had one more thing to say to them before he left; it was a command. John Chapter 13 records it for us:
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.
This does not mean that we should not love non-believers as well, but Jesus specifically commanded his followers to love one another. We should love our fellow followers in a special way, for we share the same center of our lives—Jesus.
When Believers Disagree
However, the followers of Jesus often disagree on important issues. We sometimes find this disagreement mystifying, embarrassing, and even frightening. Why can’t we all agree? It is because the Bible does not answer all our questions about truth and life, so people who read the Bible come to different conclusions. If any two people agree 100% on every issue, then at least one of them is not thinking.
So we come to disagree on what we consider important, even essential, issues. How do we respond to those who oppose our well-thought-out opinions? I suggest that, whatever we do, we not forget Jesus’ command for us to ‘Love one another.’ We must sometimes argue against what we think are mistaken ideas, but it should not involve personal hostility.
In visiting other blogs, I sometimes find behavior that seems completely opposite to loving each other. Believers battle each other with ferocity. Both bloggers and those who comment attack fellow believers as though they were deadly enemies.
Their attitudes reflect disrespect, arrogance, scorn, contempt, and condescension. They engage in such tactics as name-calling, mocking, ridicule, disparagement, denigration, sarcasm, caricature, false characterization, and personal attacks. They are often dismissive.
This is true both of some conservatives and some progressives. Does this demonstrate love, or is it venomous hatred? Can we say that everyone knows we are his disciples because we love one another?
Think of the believer you disagree with most. It might be Westboro Baptist Church; I don’t like to call out names but Westboro makes a campaign of attracting hatred publicly. They seem to thrive on it. If we can love our enemies as Jesus told us, then certainly we can love our misguided fellow believers at Westboro, even though we disapprove of their behavior and must call them out on it.
My Honest Heart-felt Goal
Even when it is difficult, I hope always to respect those believers who disagree with me or oppose me. Fortunately, I have seen no hate in responses to my blog, but I am sure I will if I attract more readers.
I hope people do not detect unloving behavior in my blog posts or in my comments on other blogs. I have a constant concern that my tone might come across as arrogant or dismissive when I mean nothing of the sort. If you ever sense that it is, please let me know.
Paul, whom I admire greatly, exhorts us in Ephesians chapter 4:
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
May we always follow Paul’s exhortation.