Genuine Christian Love
Film can capture magnificently the dissonance that can occur between what a character says and what’s actually going on inside their mind. It’s usually seen in a close-up on the eyes: “Well, how wonderful to see you again, Mr. Jenkins!” says her mouth, and yet from the expression, the audience realizes she doesn’t really mean it. What she really means is “I would have avoided bumping into you if I could have avoided it, Mr. Jenkins—but now I’m stuck here with you.”
What the mouth says is not necessarily what the truth is. Too many hearts have been broken and lives ruined by someone who said, “I love you” without really meaning it. True Christian love, according to Scripture, is always genuine. Paul confronts the danger of superficiality and deception by encouraging the believer to love with sincerity—that is, with a heart that matches our words. We are set free from the tyranny of acting as if we like everyone or thinking we have to be liked by everyone; and in Christ we are then also supernaturally enabled to love even those we previously wouldn’t have wanted to be near.
Indeed, Christian love, says W.E. Vine, “does not always run with the natural inclinations, nor does it spend itself only upon those for whom some affinity is discovered.” In other words, it isn’t natural. What is natural is to love only those whom we deem lovable—those who are like us, fit within our framework, and meet our expectations. But genuine love isn’t conventional. It transcends the boundaries of race, intellect, and social status. It transcends all the boundaries put in place by man.
This is the love of Romans 5:8: “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Sincere love can only come as a product of God’s grace. It’s a reflection of Jesus’ sacrifice for us. When God’s love shapes a believer’s life, our words and deeds will overflow with that love.
Paul’s hope was that when people saw the early church in Rome, they would say, “There’s something different about the way these people love one another.” God’s call to you in your relationships with other Christians today is the same. Do not settle for a superficial, weak, or fake love. Do not let your heart be cold even while you are saying all the right things. Let your love be genuine—by gazing at the one who loved you unto death, sinner that you are. Let your prayer be that your love would be different, and deeper, so that you can point to the one from whom all true love flows.
12“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15No longer do I call you servants,1 for the servant2 does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17These things I command you, so that you will love one another.
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