Loving One Another As Jesus Loves Us
What does the Bible say about loving one another? The Bible has a lot to say about loving one another. It also says a lot about loving everyone. In fact, the Bible is very clear about the requirement for us to love our brothers and sisters in Christ as well as everyone else – to love one another as Jesus loves us. It’s one of those things we know we need to do but aren’t sure how to do it. After all, if we are honest, there are some really unlovable people inside and outside of faith! Others might even see me or you in that category. In addition, the word ‘love,’ in our culture, means everything from loving your new shoes to loving your child.
Also, how do you love someone who is a cruel, mean person? How do love a murderer? How do you love someone who physically, sexually, or mentally abused you? Are we really supposed to love someone like that? The hard-to-accept-answer is – yes, we are to love them as Jesus loves us.
Love Is Not An Approval of Wrong
We often think that if we extend our love to someone, it means that we approve of what they do and accept it. I was sexually abused by a step-father and the first time someone told me I needed to forgive him, I was very angry. I thought they meant I was saying that what he did was ok. It was years before I finally came to understand that forgiveness simply releases me from the power of that person’s actions. What they did was still wrong. I don’t have to approve or want to ever be around them again.
It’s the same with love. It does not signify approval of what someone may have done. It simply signifies obedience and conforming ourselves to the image of Christ rather than the world. The world loves division, offense, hatred, bitterness, anger, unforgiveness, and revenge. Love is the opposite of all of that. God’s love makes all the difference in the world and inside of us. We can make all the difference by loving one another as He does.
Scriptures on Love
1 Thessalonians 3:12-13, “May the Lord flood you with an unending, undying (agape) love for one another and for all humanity, like our love for you, so that your hearts will be reinforced with His strength, held blameless and holy before God, our Father, when our Lord Jesus appears with all His holy ones. Amen.” The Voice
John 13:34-35, “So I give you a new command: (agape) Love each other deeply and fully. Remember the ways that I have loved you, and demonstrate your love for others in those same ways. Everyone will know you as My followers if you demonstrate your (agape) love to others.” The Voice
Galatians 5:14-15, “For the whole law comes down to this one instruction, ‘Love (agape) your neighbor as yourself,’ so why all this vicious gnawing on each other? If you are not careful, you will find you’ve eaten each other alive!” The Voice
1 John 4:19-21, “We love because He has first loved (agape) us. If someone claims, “I love God,” but hates his brother or sister, then he is a liar. Anyone who does not love a brother or sister, who he has seen, cannot possibly love God, whom he has never seen. He gave us a clear command, that all who love God must also love their brothers and sisters.” The Voice
Love One Another As Jesus Loves Us
You can also read 1 Corinthians 13 – the love chapter. Then go to the list of fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5 – the first one is (agape) love. It’s pretty clear that we are to love each other. In spite of that, the Galatians were tearing each other apart. So, we see this – there is a perpetual need for us to be reminded of who we are to love and how.
There are so many types of hurt and pain which cause us not to love each other. There are also things like preferences which cause us not to love. Actually, we can find a multitude of reasons not to love our brothers and sisters in Christ. However, we are specifically commanded to love one another without excuses just as Jesus loves us. That’s the hard part.
Love the Unlovable as Jesus Loves Others
I’ve been hurt in church by Christians. We seem to have a harder time dealing with this than if someone in a less spiritual setting hurts us. Our expectations are different when we call someone brother or sister. However, people are regularly hurt by fellow Christians. It’s even worse when it comes from someone in leadership. Perhaps they abused their power. Rather than being a servant-leader, they felt an entitlement which allowed them to be dismissive and hurtful. It can be hard to understand. Even so, we are commanded to love. Nowhere are we told – love them unless; love them but; or, if they hurt you, don’t love them.
Like all human beings, power can negatively affect the person who holds it. Is it an excuse? No. It’s still true.
Loving Church Members Who Hurt You
I’ve been hurt many times by church leaders. I have been deeply hurt and betrayed. It was hard because these were also people I believed to be my friends. Yes, I expected better of them. I expected them to respect me. Regardless, I was hurt. In some cases, I finally realized that there were differences between us involving our core beliefs and what our conscience’s dictated. I had to let go of my expectation that we were the same in that regard. I also had to realize that they were not going to change. Since that was true, it meant I either had to accept it and decide whether or not I could continue with them or, whether or not I needed to leave. I left. I left under good terms, but I left.
There were also times when the pain that was inflicted was completely unjust. It’s hard to be the victim of injustice and have it cut deeply into your life. Having a lie take away your ministry is devastating. Even after the person realized they were wrong, the damage was still done.
How to Win When You Lose
In my book, “How to Win When You Lose,” I go into detail about my process of healing and finding victory again after loss. If this has happened to you I would recommend that you read it. It is an excellent book about recovering from this type of loss. I don’t have all the answers, but I do know what it is like to find your way back from this kind of hurt.
Have I been able to love those people again? Yes, I have. It took time. It required reminding myself that God loves me through my faults and failures. I have hurt others and still wanted God to love me and be my friend. He has and is. He expects the same from me. Love one another. Jesus loves us.
Practical Ways to Love Others
In what way do I love them? I love them with a Boundary-Love. While I would help them if they were in need, pray for them, and genuinely want the best for them, I would not partner with them again unless God specifically spoke. Our lives are different as are many aspects of our life perspective. We love the same Savior but serve Him differently. It is not up to me to judge their conscience or heart. The Word is clear regarding who knows each person’s heart and it isn’t me!
Do I love the man who molested me? I love him with big, big boundaries. I never saw him again after I was 15. He was only in my life for two years. Do I pray that he found Christ as his Savior? Yes. And in that way, I love him. No matter what, I would want him to know Jesus. I don’t know if that happened but I hope it did. I loved him as you would love someone you met for a moment. His negative impact on my life was short-lived and eliminated through forgiveness and Jesus. I would never have allowed him back into my life but I care for his soul.
Women in Ministry – a challenge to you – choose to love as Jesus loves you!
What is Biblical Love?
There are different levels of love. In the Bible, there are four Greek words for love:
- Eros – this is sexual or passionate love. It is not used in the Bible.
- Agape – this is the unconditional love of God. This love is an action love based on a choice more than a feeling. God so loved (agape) the world that he gave. Agape is an action. It is a decision, a deliberate choice that may not feel good, but you choose to do it because it is love. Jesus chose to die on a cross for us out of Agape. He didn’t want to do it, but He chose to. This is Agape. This is the love referred to in John 13:35 – Christians are to be known for their Agape love for one another – loving others as Jesus loves us.
- Phileo – this is brotherly love. It is a special interest, affection for, like, or close association.
- Storge – is a devoted and natural affection like that between parents and children. It is used in Romans 12:10, “Live in true devotion to one another, loving each other as sisters and brothers. Be first to honor others by putting them first.” Notice the word devotion. This is more than a casual relationship. It is a cherishing of one’s kindred as Strong’s Concordance defines it.
Choosing to Love Others as Jesus Loves Us
So, you see that if we are loving as God loves, we will make a choice to love those who have hurt us. While it may not be what we want to do, it is what God wants us to do. It is Agape.
Does that mean you need to seek out the person who abused or hurt you and try to be their best friend again? No. Common sense would tell you that the relationship is a harmful one. You can love someone and never even see them or talk to them because Agape is a choice, not a feeling. You can maintain your boundaries, guard your heart, and rise to the challenge to love the unlovable – to love one another as Jesus loves us.
You might also enjoy – Mercy Triumphs Over Judgment