What the World Needs Now – Is Love, Sweet Love – Steve Testerman

Matthew 22:35-40 “Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

These are called the Greatest Commandments and are the basis for Christianity.

Jesus himself summarized perfectly in the Gospels, the most important things to know and obey in all of the teachings contained in both the Old and New Testaments:   LOVE!

What is most surprising to me, is how easily these passages are either ignored, forgotten or misunderstood!   Let’s examine that but first, what is Love?  

According to a recent article in Psychology Today there are 7 different kinds of Love: Erotic Love, Affectionate Love, Familiar Love, Playful Love, Enduring Love, Self Love and Agape or Selfless Love.

(You can read about each of these by clicking this link https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/hide-and-seek/201606/these-are-the-7-types-love )

Selfless Love

The focus here is on Agape or Selfless Love.  According the above source, “Agape is universal love, such as the love for strangers, nature, or God. Also called charity by Christian thinkers, agape can be defined as unselfish concern for the welfare of others.”

I believe that when Christ talked about Loving God and Loving your Neighbor, that He was talking about Agape.

Honestly, you don’t even have to call yourself a Christian to embody this Agape Love for your fellow human beings!  But I don’t know how anyone could claim to be a Christian who does not embrace this most basic and fundamental emotion.  Yet we see it all the time when, in the name of Christ, people seek the denial of basic human rights to others.

Christ did not say, Love only those who are like you and your friends but also love your enemy and those who are not like you.  When we fail at this, it is centered in our own selfish desire to promote ourselves, our own self-interests and those of our “Tribe” (see the first essay in this series on Tribalism What the World Needs Now -The Filter of Love – Steve Testerman – http://go.shr.lc/2G4tVkT ).  It is “Us” against “them” and in it’s ugliest form can lead to violence, death and destruction.

Are you talking to me?

We can look back in history and see some pretty obvious examples of “Christian” lack of Love or concern for others:

Slavery is an easy example.  Who would suggest in 2018 that Slavery is anything but an egregious violation of human rights and total lack of concern for the welfare of the slave.  Yet Christian pulpits across the South in the 19th Century sought to justify the evil practice that held millions of people captive and in bondage.  It would be unthinkable to argue the merits of Slavery today, but it begs the question, “What are we doing right now as human beings – that are counter to the Commandment of Jesus Christ; to Love our Neighbor?”

Here is a nominee:

Bigotry

Bigotry in all of it’s forms, has to be counter to Christ’s teachings by its very definition; an intolerance of others who are different. Bigotry is evil and includes racism, misogyny, religious intolerance, homophobia or any form of hatred toward others for the simple reason that they happen to be different than we are.

For example, some Christians want to condemn homosexuals. They reason that they  are different and do things which they find disgusting.  Further they argue that they have a lifestyle which puts them in conflict with God’s word.  They will quote 1 Corinthians and tell us that God has somehow given them the right to judge and condemn these people.  Homosexuals must seem cursed and unloved by God and some, in the name of Christ, are content to let them spend eternity in Hell because of their transgressions – banning them from Churches with the idea that God must not love them and that it is their fate to burn!

Some say they are “possessed by the Devil!”  In order to justify these feelings they would deny that homosexuals are “born that way”, but insist that it is a choice that they make; a choice for evil and depravity.

Personally, I have no doubt that most LGBTQ people (to use a more inclusive term) simply have no choice regarding their sexuality.  It took me a long time to realize that there is one other “birth defect” that causes a person to sin and to act in a way that is displeasing to God …

That condition is called HUMANITY!  

Yet God sees fit to forgive us all, but the hypocrite cannot forgive the sins of others.  What is laughable is the it is not our place to forgive or not forgive, that is God’s job.  Our only job is to show our Love – not condemn.

The so-called “Religious Freedom” movement is essentially conceived in Hatred against members of another “Tribe”.  Christians, who fail the test, want to discriminate and withhold their respect for another human in the name of Jesus Christ.

1 John 4:20 “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.”

It is a short step to the persecution of these people and a short step to the persecution of other “Tribes” who are deemed to be equally lost in the eyes of the hypocrite.  If our laws would allow me to not bake a cake for a same-sex wedding, then the same laws would allow me to not bake a cake for a Jewish or Muslim or Catholic or a mixed-race wedding.  This cannot be allowed in the land of the Free!  The suggestion by false and hypocritical Christians that their religion does not allow this act of service, not only proves their misunderstanding of God’s plan, but sends a message to the “lost” that Christianity is a false religion full of intolerant, hypocritical and false disciples.

Can we agree that we all have sinned and all fall short of the Glory of God?  Further, Christians should know that all sin is unacceptable to God and that all sins are equal in God’s eyes.  This is the way to our salvation – through forgiveness of sin and not through the absence of it.

To have a Loving World that is aligned with what Jesus taught us, we must do everything we can, each and every waking moment to resist the temptation to embrace Bigotry but to vigorously reject it!  To do less, is not Agape Love, but it is the opposite, it is Hatred.  It is a direct violation of God’s plan and one of His most fundamental and important Commandments.  Jesus said, either you are for me or  you are against me!

What can you and I do about it?  

Plenty!  

Start by applying the “Filter of Love” to every thought and interaction that you have with your fellow man and woman.  Show your concern for their well being and make an effort to help them to the best of your capacity.  Lead by example! Let it be know to our representatives in government, that you will no longer support bigoted, racist, discriminatory language and actions.

Yes, we can continue to have a Great America if hundreds and thousands of people across this land will stand up for what this Country is truly about – Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness for all!

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