We’ve heard a lot this past year about loving our neighbours. Surely this is a good thing, right? After all, who can argue with love?
The trouble is, the “love” we’ve been hearing about lately looks radically different than the love we read about in Holy Scripture. Biblical love isn’t passive, but active. It’s not a matter of just repeating popular slogans, but of truly helping people in need. Love is not lived out in isolation but in community.
Even a brief glance at the New Testament confirms this:
Love keeps all of Christ’s commandments (John 14:15.) Love abhors what is evil (Romans 12:9.) Love rejoices with those who rejoice and weeps with those who weep (Romans 12:15.) Love cheerfully shows hospitality to one another (1 Peter 4:9.) Love considers how to provoke and encourage one another and does not forsake the assembly (Hebrews 10:24-25.) Perfect love, we are told, casts out fear (1 John 4:18.) Love seeks to complete the joy of others by meeting face-to-face (2 John 12.)
What greater example of love could there possibly be than Jesus Himself? Love Incarnate walked with His disciples. He ate with tax collectors and sinners. He blessed the little children. He looked into the faces of the crowds as He taught. His love was manifested in His presence. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us!
We ought to love our neighbours, but not like the lawyer who—wanting to justify himself—asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbour?” (Luke 10:29ff.) Your neighbours are not an abstract concept. Your neighbours are not a statistic. Your neighbours are not something you just think about in theory from the safety of your living room. They are real people. Will you go and truly love them?
who left their homeland to build a business in Canada, only to have years of hard work taken away from them based upon the preemptive speculations of powerful bureaucrats who never have to worry about their next paycheck. How would you want someone to act on your behalf if it was your livelihood on the line?
who, due to crushing public debt, won’t have access to lifesaving medical care in decades to come, because the public treasury will eventually have to repay—at interest—the money they borrowed to pay healthy, willing, able-bodied people to stay home from work this year. Will you voice your concerns about this today, or will you be silent because you assume this will be somebody else’s problem tomorrow?
whose faith is weak and desperately needs to be nurtured. An hour of livestreaming per week isn’t cutting it. She can’t “coast” on many years of past Christian experience like we think we can. The corporate assembly of the saints is her lifeline. Are we willing to stir up our newly born sister to not forsake the assembly, which would be our love and good work?
whose whole life has unraveled ever since he lost his job. He’s slipped back into several addictions. His closed church doesn’t know he’s drowning in secret sin. Church leaders haven’t seen him face-to-face in over a year; they’re still shuttering the church in order to “keep everyone safe.” He needs spiritual help. How do we love the bound and oppressed if we never meet with them?
who needs authentic human interaction more than you could ever imagine. That simple hug you’ll give her in the doorway tomorrow will do far more than move her to tears. You may not realize it, but your upcoming “illegal” dinner invitation just might be the one thing that pulls her out of a destructive pattern of suicidal thoughts, saving her life. Will you be willing to obey God rather than man by showing her some hospitality?
Don’t settle for a cheap, trite, counterfeit version of love, however popular it may be. Don’t let fear, tunnel vision or a fixation on a single threat keep you from showing love to those who truly need it: