Love exists not because we love but because God loves us. Love exists with or without us. Jesus chooses to love all of us all the time, whether or not we return that love.
Love is God’s command.
Once we are baptized, we become friends of Christ. As friends of the Lord, Jesus commands us to love our enemies, our neighbors and everyone in between.
Since God loves us, we must love one another. Being a loving Christian can be difficult.
Jesus gives his disciples this command: “Love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15:12) Let’s face it, some people are difficult to love. They can be rude, obnoxious, controlling, domineering, passive-aggressive, paranoid and invasive. They can be power-hungry, insensitive, phony and unreliable and unpleasant, unpredictable, unlikable and unbelievable. Yet, Jesus tells us to love them anyway.
An important distinction exists between loving and liking. We may like some people more than others. We get along with people who have similar interests. Love is wanting what is best for a person. We can want what is best for a person even if they annoy us or aggravate us.
We can still genuinely care about them even when doing so is difficult. We must decide beforehand that we are going to be a loving person no matter what. We cannot control what others will do, but we can decide that we are going to be a loving person.
One problem we have in talking about love is that we have only one word in English for love but there are many different kinds of love. We have love of parents for their children, the love friends share, the love we have for our pets, and romantic and sexual love.
However, the type of love that Jesus is talking about in the gospels is Agape Love. This is the highest and most unselfish kind of loves, the 1 Corinthians 13 love. “Love is kind and patient; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” (1 Cor. 13:4-8)
In the introduction to this passage Paul says, “If I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” ( 1 Cor. 13:2-3)
This love is not natural; it goes against our very nature. We want revenge. Yet Jesus tells us to love the unlovable, the undeserving, the ugly. This love gives all and asks for nothing in return. It’s the love that takes the greatest chance with no guarantee that we will not get hurt.
This is our choice. When we love, we take a chance. Yet C. S. Lewis said, “It’s better to love and die, than not to love and cry.” God is Love, and that love we all will slowly develop as we become more Godlike. We will begin to change from natural to a spiritual person.
Jesus wants an intimate relationship with us. He calls us friends and reveals the Father’s love for us. In turn, Jesus commands us to love one another unconditionally as he has loved us. Our status of friends of Jesus makes us partners in the work of bringing people to God. This is a great privilege. This is why we carry a song in our hearts. This is the joy that Jesus told us the world could not give us.