Love One Another
Leviticus 19:34 ESV
John 13:34-35 ESV
Romans 12:9-10 NLT
I John 4:7-14 ESV
Strangers in our culture are not generally highly regarded. I was taught as a child in the early 1950’s to be careful around strangers. I think that was because I wasn’t terribly shy as a child. As a matter of fact every comment from my teachers from Kindergarten through sixth grade was the same. “She talks too much to others in class”.
I was strongly encouraged to keep to myself when I was in school. I now wonder if I would have been more of an extrovert had I not been discouraged from interacting with others.
I also wonder if I would not have written and passed notes in class if I’d been allowed to speak. I do remember passing notes to others from the time I could write.
What I believe now (60+ years later) is that children need to be encouraged to be who God made them to BE. I’ve also noticed when I visited my own children in class things had significantly changed. Silence is not altogether revered as being normal.
I also know the world has changed a lot.
My grandchildren have been taught to be aware of strangers…for good reason. While that’s unfortunate, it IS essential for their safety.
Leviticus 19:34, “You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.”
The majority of the Book of Leviticus was written at the time of Moses around the 14th and 13th BC. That was approximately 4,000 years before Jesus walked the earth.
The children of a Israel were instructed to treat strangers as family. In Leviticus 19 the children of Israel were reminded that they were strangers once when they lived in Egypt and they need to remember what that felt like. Being a stranger can be difficult.
During my last 18 years in the workforce I learned a lot about people who are different. They called it diversity and we took classes so we would understand other cultures. I had a good friend who grew up in Bosnia. I sat by a man who grew up in Vietnam. I intentionally asked them to tell me about their country and culture growing up. Both of the two people I mentioned grew up in a time and place where war was always before them.
While I didn’t grow up in a place occupied by enemies, today I am aware not every stranger can be trusted.
The movie The Shack has had a significant impact on me in that regard. I’ve watched it several times but I fast forward through the early part when they realize the child is gone. I simply can’t bear the thought…
I think that’s because one of my children played a game when we were in a store. He hid from me. That was in the late 1970’s. In today’s world I would consider keeping him in a cart at all times. I don’t think I could allow him to play his hiding game.
I guess I’m saying I’ve been taught to be aware (Beware) of strangers. I’ve learned to pray for protection. I rely on angels. I ask God to show me when I’m in danger. I pray for my children and grandchildren.
At the time of Jesus the culture had significantly changed. Men were regarded as being valuable. Women and children were not highly regarded. In general, a man’s donkey was more valuable that his wife and children.
Jesus made it clear that every person, even women and children were valued by God.
Jesus gave a new Commandment in John 13:34-35, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
When Jesus taught the crowds to love one another, he included women and children.
In the same vein the Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 12:9-10, “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.”
Paul encouraged his audience to stop pretending they love one another. He told them to LOVE genuinely and unconditionally.
In I John 4:7-14 we read, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.”
The author encourages his audience to know God and to really love others as an outpouring of the love of God.
I find great hope and encouragement from his words because I am reminded that while I am human and I have fear of trusting my fellow humans, I can trust God.
That means when I am in a situation when I am not sure about who I can trust, I CAN trust God.
I (we) can absolutely trust God.
So, the next time I am in a situation when I am not sure about opening my heart to trust another, I can ask God. I can pray and ask the Spirit of God to show me truth. I know God will honor that request…I trust in God.
Today’s Spiritual Practice is: Trust God and Love
Practice praying and trusting God to show you LOVE in this world.
In God, Deborah