In 1 John 3: 11-24, we see two truths that are really, really hard to hold together. We will not always be liked. But we must always love. Listen to what we are told today:
For this is the message you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. We must not be like Cain who was from the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous. Do not be astonished, brothers and sisters, that the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life because we love one another. Whoever does not love abides in death. All who hate a brother or sister are murderers, and you know that murderers do not have eternal life abiding in them. We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us—and we ought to lay down our lives for one another. How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help?
Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action. And by this we will know that we are from the truth and will reassure our hearts before him whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have boldness before God; and we receive from him whatever we ask, because we obey his commandments and do what pleases him.
And this is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. All who obey his commandments abide in him, and he abides in them. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit that he has given us.
Not everyone will love us. In fact, following Jesus, doing the right thing, may actually cause some people not to like us. It will make us unpopular.
There will be folks that hate us, simply because of Jesus.
Friends, I want to make a very important point here. And all of us in the West need to understand this. Yes, there are folks who may oppose our views, our beliefs, our moral code, whatever. Yes, we may be unpopular. Laughed at. Mocked. Face pressure and dislike. It is becoming challenging to be a Christian today.
But we have friends, brothers and sisters, who are literally being killed for their faith. The people in Africa, in the Middle East, in Asia, who are being killed simply for being Christian.
So, yes, people make fun us. But there are brothers and sisters who suffer far worse fates than that. And we need to be praying for them. And John tells us as well what we should do for those who persecute us.
We should love them.
Because that’s what we are called to do as Christians. Love. Even those who hurt us or do us harm.
Because that’s what Jesus did for us.
He loved us. So we must love them. That’s our calling as Christians. To love even those who do not love us. Even those who are abusive towards us.
Love. Because God loves them. And Christ died for them. And God can, through our love, change them.
So, let’s love. Even when it’s hard.
Especially when it’s hard.