We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.
—1 John 4:19-21
“Why do Justin and Robert always sit on opposite sides of the sanctuary?” Colleen asked Diane. “I’ve never seen them talk to each other. Aren’t they both long-time members?”
Diane sighed. “They were once very good friends. Then something happened between them—I don’t know what. They had a big falling-out. Now they don’t talk, and they avoid each other. Their feud has gone on so long, it just seems normal.”
If you’ve ever been hurt by someone in the church, then you are not alone. It’s an unfortunate part of living in a world of broken people. Even the early Christians were capable of hurting each other.
It’s tempting to believe the writer of 1 John got things backward. It’s far easier to love strangers who have not hurt us than to love a friend who’s lost our trust. But according to God’s Word, if we cannot love those we see—regardless of how they have hurt us—then we cannot love God.
But that’s easier said than done, right?
A good way to approach this command is to see it as a goal to work toward. One way to demonstrate your love for God is to forgive and reconcile with a brother or sister in Christ who has hurt you. Will it be hard? Yes. Painful? Probably. Impossible? No, because God loved us first, and that gives us the resources we need to love others—all of them.
Today’s One Thing
Take a first step in reconciling with an estranged brother or sister in Christ today. Write a letter, send an email or make a call. It will take time, but there will be no reconciliation unless someone takes that first step.