Brotherly Love

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. ~John 3:16

Most all people know John 3:16 which speaks of God's love for us but how many people know 1 John 3:16 which talks of how then we are to show our love? We are to express the love of Christ to one another not just through feeling, speech, or blind donations but by acting out our love in each other's lives in tangible, real, and personal ways.

We live in a society blessed with an abundance of wealth. You may not look at your bank statement and think that you are overly wealthy as you compare yourself to Bill Gates, Donald Trump, or George Soros, but to much of the world you are indistinguishable from them in terms of riches. There are many countries where multiple families share single room shanties. To them, you have a mansion with more rooms than people! There are many in the world that search for food and water for their children each day. You most likely have a refrigerator full of food, much of which will end up going to waste as it goes bad and you throw it away without a thought.

When we think about these things, and many of us do, our response is to usually to find a good charity to support and throw some money at the problem. Then, our conscience abated, we go back to our daily lives secure in the knowledge that we are doing our share. But are we really doing what God calls us to do? Supporting charities with monetary pledges is a good thing and we should absolutely lift up and support our brothers and sisters in Christ who are sacrificing their lives and their time to make a difference in people's lives. But is that where we can and should stop?

The truth is that when I search the Scripture, I don't find anything like western charity. I don't see Jesus calling us to first take care of ourselves then throw some money at others that are willing to help those in need. Rather, I see a call to be intimately involved in the lives of those that are hurting and are in need. Jesus didn't say "go buy a homeless guy a lunch then come follow Me." Jesus said to sell all that you have, give to the poor, deny yourself, pick up your cross daily, and follow Him (Matthew 19:21, Luke 9:23).

To be clear, I don't believe that Jesus is saying that everybody must sell all their possessions and live a life of forced poverty. But He does mean that we must hold our possessions so loosely that, should He call us to, we are willing to give them to whomever might need them. Jesus boiled all of the Old Testament Law and Prophets down to two simple principles: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all strength, and will all your mind; and love your neighbor as yourself.

The picture of loving others that is painted for us in Scripture is not one of measured and thoughtful giving out of our excess and from afar, but one of radical, intimate, and interactive blessing out of the abundance of our love in real and tangible terms.  Continue to give to whatever charities that God has led you to support, but also find somebody today and show them the love of our Lord and savior by making a real and tangible difference in their life.

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. ~1 John 3:16-18

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