I can’t find anyone not to love because I can’t find anyone God doesn’t love. Sometimes it seems I am trying to find someone who merits not only disapproval and sometimes disgust, but even sometimes feeling that hate would be appropriate. You don’t even have to look hard for people to dislike since they have such obnoxious ways, despicable expressions and practices that hate seems to be the appropriate response.
After observing someone’s inappropriate or disgusting actions, I have, on occasion, found myself asking God if He really does love them, and imagined I heard Him say, “I’m having a little trouble with that one myself.” Of course, He never has and never will say that, because “God is love.” He has proved His love by giving His own Son to die for all of our unlawful actions and evil deeds in order to cover them, cleanse us, redeem us and adopt us as His own sons and daughters. God loves with an everlasting love that knows no limit and cannot be hindered by any barriers. It is this love that He desires to fill us with to overflowing.
When we walk in the Spirit and find ourselves yielded to the fullness of His indwelling presence, we will be amazed at how freely His love is expressed through us. Jesus said, “Even the unbelievers can love their friends and those who are kind to them, but I command you to love your enemies.”
Recently I wrote a commentary titled, “Jesus said love your enemies, but He never said get in bed with them,” and He certainly didn’t say make love to them. He never asked for compromise. He is clearly proclaiming to us that it is a compromise not to love everyone. Not for one moment does that mean we should approve of or join them in their evil ways. God has filled my heart with so much love for the poor, the suffering, and the defeated that some people have chided me saying, “You seem to be able to think of something positive about everyone. You can probably say something nice about the devil.” I always answer, “Well, he does work hard!” Continuing on a serious note, if you are looking for something to hate, throughout the Bible God says to hate evil. Psalm 97:10 says, “Let those who love the Lord hate evil, for He guards the lives of his faithful ones and delivers them from the hand of the wicked.” We should express hatred toward evil, especially any evil in our own lives.
This morning in our prayer time, Betty said, “We need to let God clean out this house,“ and she pointed to her heart, “before we can be used to clean out His house [the church].” How right she is! We must ask God to give us the ability to make righteous judgments, and to free us from the continual damaging practice of passing judgment on others and allowing animosity to develop in our hearts.
It is totally appropriate to despise certain actions and practices, but we must love the person who is held captive by negative influences and deceptive powers. We really are in a spiritual battle, but Christians have spiritual weapons that enable us to overcome even a lack of love.
Betty and I have spent time the last 20 years going to the overlooked places and forgotten people around the world. With the help of caring friends, we have been able to release expressions of love and compassion. It’s as though we are actually helping put God’s arms of love around a broken world. Indescribable joy!
I have personally devoted time the last 15 years with specific focus over the past 36 months meeting with Christian leaders, national and business leaders from all walks of life. This includes people from all races, sects, and political parties, and I have been able to communicate with them. They have heard my heart and I have heard theirs. This has all happened because God put His love in my heart for them and they recognize it. I can say without exaggeration, I love everyone! No, I don’t like some of their ways, but the minute I say that, God says, “Examine your own ways.” (Believe me, I’m not only examining myself. I’m asking God to continually help me do it and I appreciate all who pray for me. Pray I will be able to see my blind spots and wherever I am dull of hearing, God will increase my ability to hear.) Our loving Father disciplines us to correct us, not reject us! Because He loves us, He trains us as His children.
As I have met with people, whether they are Catholic, Baptist, Protestant, Pentecostal, Charismatic or whatever, it has not hindered my ability to love them and establish meaningful friendships. Love has opened the way to open communication. It seems easier for some Christians to love the lost than to love other believers. I believe God desires to change this.
Earlier this week I met with several prominent church leaders and was told, “James, thank you not only for loving across the lines, but helping us to do so.” One of the best-known church leaders in America said to me, ‘God has used you to help me form relationships with people who never would have talked with me and I never would have spent time with them and it has been transforming.”
I made a statement to the attendees at the Prayer Summit in September, “We do not know Him as well as we should because we too often refuse to know them. We often cut ourselves off from members of the Body of Christ who could contribute so much to our own spiritual health.”
My friend Dr. Tony Evans, Pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Church, has just written a book entitled Oneness Embraced, which I think is a gift from God. The last chapters emphasize the Kingdom of God. His Kingdom has been divided and has become an unhealthy family because most believers refuse to communicate across sectarian lines. I’ve said before: No wonder Congress can’t talk, couples don’t talk, when the church family won’t talk! Believers don’t talk together because they’ve often been trained to be critical and call people heretics when they may be simply misinformed, misunderstood or mistaken. As church leaders and believers we should always seek to correct error, but we don’t need more stone throwers! Jim Hylton, in his new book on the Kingdom, calls them “wineskin wars.”
I am convinced that love never fails, but is seldom allowed to control our actions and opinions. I am asking God to help me release His love. When asked what the greatest commandments were, Jesus said, “Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and love your neighbor as yourself.” The Apostle Paul said in Galatians that when you love your neighbor, all the law is fulfilled in a word.
Surely each one of us should trust God to fill us with love that is far beyond ourselves, but never beyond Him. He is the one who grants us the grace to love others as He loves them.
In the Old Testament, God kept warning the people and calling them to Himself, yet they kept saying “no” and went their own way. They were dull of hearing and could not see. The result was crisis and catastrophic consequences.
God is calling us like a loving Father to love one another. People normally wait until all hell breaks loose and everything starts falling apart before they start reaching out to each other and coming together.
God has said to us as preachers that we are to put a trumpet to our lips. We are to sound the trumpet with a call to awaken, become alert, get your eyes and ears open and run back into the shelter of the Almighty and protection the Lord provides. We are not safe when the walls are down – ask Job!
The reason Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans wasn’t the storm itself, it was because the levy walls broke and the city flooded. As citizens of the Kingdom of God, we are equipped to storm the gates of hell. Hell is not supposed to be prevailing over us. The church of the living God is supposed to prevail over the powers of darkness and hell!
I am continually praying, “Lord, pour Your love through me. Let Your kingdom come, Your will be done through us on earth as it is in Heaven.”
Betty and I have witnessed God’s love tear down the walls that keep people from Him and healthy interaction. Jesus loved those who were despised and ridiculed and their lives were transformed. His love expressed through us offers the hope, healing, and meaningful life the human heart longs for. We will share love freely when we begin to see others with the eyes of Jesus. The next time you see someone difficult to love, for whatever reason, remember Jesus died for them, God loves them and wishes to express His love through someone. You can be the one!