Whoever says he is in light but hates his brother is still in darkness.

James 2: 9

 

James is calling to everyone who knows Christ to examine our hearts and to listen to our own words in the process. This is serious business, for Jesus did not take the way that we treat each other lightly. He cared about and for all people without regard to the culturally determined divisions and without applying the usual tests of orthodoxy, safety, or comfortability. Jesus came into the world to love people in a manner that was exactly the same as that with which the Father loves us. This love is absolute, unconditional, and universal. It is poured out for all to accept and receive. It flows down from Christ’s cross of torture to cover the sinfulness of anyone who surrenders this life to Christ.

 

Yet, even as we exist in that state of forgiveness that brings about an unbreakable relationship with God, we are still imperfect with hearts and minds that are works in progress. Unfortunately we can do a great deal of harm to others while we are proclaiming that we know Christ while still living as if His life and its light of righteous truth were not in us. One of the places where this is most apparent is in the way that we engage with people who are different from us or who disagree with us. In simple terms, there is no room in God’s Kingdom for hate. We are not granted the right to judge others, and we do not hold the authority to determine who we should care about and for or where they should be allowed to dwell. Instead, Christ desires for His people to be open and to embrace the widely diverse appearances, cultures, and understandings of god that the people of this world bring to the dialogue of life.

 

To be clear, embracing and loving others does not mean compromise of faith; rather, it requires that we listen and seek to understand the story that our neighbor has to tell. It requires us to set aside fear and prejudice and to turn these natural responses over to Christ and submit them to Him in surrender to His cross. Although the act of faith that is expressed in loving others is undertaken in order to bring them into a relationship with Christ, it is also an important part of our own growth and transformation into Christ-like people. When we love people who make us uncomfortable or even ones who elicit fear within our hearts, we are trusting Christ to fulfill His promises to never leave us and to provide us with all that we need to follow Him in this world. When we speak fear and hatred, we deny Christ, and when we live out love, we proclaim Christ and His Kingdom of peace to our world.

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