Love is a Risky Business – Part 2

In Part 1 of this series

we discussed how love can be a very risky endeavor. Why is love risky? Because when we dare to love others there’s a possibility that we will be hurt by the ones we love. When it comes to loving a spouse, a family member, a brother (or sister) from church, or an old friend, most of us are willing to take that chance for the people we care about because we already care about them. But what about those people from whom we have nothing to gain by loving them? Jesus makes it clear we have a duty to love others, and that duty is not contingent upon what we receive in return, but rather on who we are in Christ. Hence the command to love even our enemies. Yes… “Our enemies.”  That command is reminiscent of when Jesus asked the Father to forgive those who were cursing Him on the Cross as He was literally dying on their behalf.
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven;” Matthew 5:43-45a

Being more loving requires time, energy, and intentionality but my selfish nature wants to be comfortable and to take the path of least resistance. So naturally there is a struggle to invest such precious commodities into people who may not reciprocate our love. It is much easier to love those who love us back, to love those who are part of our group, but Jesus says that anybody can do that. As children of God we have received God’s grace and forgiveness, and with that comes a duty to do more than what comes natural to us.

“…for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? 48 Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.”  Matt 5:45b-48

Just as God’s “common grace” benefits all of mankind (just and unjust) and draws unbelievers to repentance, so we are to love everyone in this world in order to accomplish a greater, eternal purpose. We are to follow God’s example of loving in such a way that those outside of our “group” will benefit from our love and be drawn to the Savior.

So how do we become effective vessels of God’s grace and love? I think we start by breaking down walls within the local churches.

  • Create real Cross-Connections with those outside of our cliques and our factions.
  • Help newer and less connected folks to connect with the church’s vision and purpose, and more importantly with the Savior–not just bring them into our clique or group.
  • Build a Kingdom-Building Culture—ambassadors for Christ.
  • Develop a Culture of Service—equip the saints to do the work of the ministry.

As we learn to love a wider array of people we will become more proficient at loving Christ because the Church is His Body. Of course there will always be some folks with whom we will have deeper relationships than others, but the breadth of our relationships will be broader. 

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