If we're ever not sure about what the will of the Lord is in any situation, there are always a few things we can count on-- one in particular:
"My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command." John 15: 12-14
There aren't any qualifications with this-- not "love each other when you approve of each other" or "if you like the way the other person is doing things" or even "if that person isn't mad at you." The only exchange?
"You are my friendsif you do what I command."
We all struggle, but imagine what could happen among us if we chose to obey His word?
Once, when I was very far from the Lord, I came to church on a Sunday night (I was at Rockdale Baptist). I always came in late and sat on the back pew in the back of the church and then I left before anyone noticed me. One night, somehow I ended up down front after the service. I smelled like cigarette smoke and I looked terrible. A woman I had known since I was a little girl, a local educator and school principal and all around woman of God, Libby Gunter-- a woman whose approval I always treasured-- came marching up to me. I was terrified that she was going to take one look at me and know all of the bad things I had been doing.That I had started smoking and drinking and that I was not in relationship with the Lord. I thought she was going to give me what I deserved-- a stern talking to (even though that wasn't her personality at all). But you know what she did?
That beautiful woman grabbed me and put her sweet face in mine and she told me that she loved me and that God loved me so deeply and that He had a plan for my life and that my hair looked beautiful.
Her kindness changed my whole life in just a moment.
What if we practiced that grace toward each other every day?
Accept one another. Love one another. Leave the judgment to the Most Wise Judge. That's not for us-- all He told us to do was to show people how He loves.
Not one of us is qualified to judge-- He said,
"Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”(Luke 6:36-38)
To the extent that I show you mercy it will be shown to me.
Not one of us ever graduates from these requirements.
Church, let's stop pronouncing judgments on each other and eyeing each other with such deep criticism-- let's worship God and show others what His love looks like, first, because He commanded us to do it, and second, because our own lives depend upon it: "For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."