Friday, December 19, 2008

Advent Week Three: Love ~ Day Six

I John 4:19-21
We love because he first loved us. If we say we love God yet hate a brother or sister, we are liars. For if we do not love a fellow believer, whom we have seen, we cannot love God, whom we have not seen. And he has given us this command: Those who love God must also love one another.

I like the gentle humor of the late Charles Schultz’s comic strip, “Peanuts.” Linus is my favorite of the strip’s characters, perhaps because he seems the most like me. I once had a poster that showed Linus with his characteristic blanket held to his face. He looked unhappy. Under the drawing were these words:

“I LOVE mankind. It’s PEOPLE I can’t stand!”

Ouch! Does that hit a nerve with you as it does with me? How much easier it is for me love a crowd and to weep for multitudes than it is to love one person who annoys, frustrates, misunderstands, disrespects, or hurts me. And to make it tougher yet, this passage is speaking of some of those closest to us, our “brothers or sister” in Christ, our fellow-believers.
Hurt that comes from another Christian often cuts deeper than wounds from someone “outside.” We expect more from each other, after all! We are supposed to be following Christ’s example, right?

For good or ill, none of us are yet made perfect. Even those who care most for us will sometimes disappoint us—it is part of the human condition. Then it is time to remind ourselves that love is not a warm feeling. It’s nice when that feeling is present, but God’s love showed itself in action. This passage is quite blunt, isn’t it? You say you love God? Well, that’s easy enough. How are you doing with the person next to you in the pew?

Prayer: My own love is not always enough, God. Grant me the grace to choose loving actions even when I don’t particularly feel like it. If I get proud about this, remind me of those times when I acted in a less than loving way towards my brother or sister. Amen

1 comment:

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