finger-stringIn the last several days I have read varying opinions on the Syrian refugee crisis and what our national response should be. There are some Christians that say, “we have to be willing to risk personal and even national safety in order to show love toward our neighbor.” Other Christians say, “As a servant of God, governments are supposed to secure peace for their citizenry.”

On any given day, I can easily bounce between the two perspectives. Like all of us, I believe in the two loves God has called us to – to love God and to love my neighbor. And we will always have different ideas on how these loves can and should be lived out.

But watching the way we often interact with each other, I think there is a third command we often forget. As disciples, Christ called us to love one another. That is the love Jesus commanded right before his death. He said it was our love for one another that would be the proof to the world that we belonged to Jesus.

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.”

No matter how committed we are to our perspectives on how to live our faith, we must be equally committed to agree and disagree with love for one another. How can we show that love when we have very different opinions?

– Fight the urge to question the motives of your sisters and brothers. Often we try to buttress our own position by questioning the faith, the wisdom, or the compassion of the other. Love starts always by assuming the best of the other.

– Take time to listen. Ask questions that seeks to understand the fears, the concerns, the hopes and dreams of the other.  Truly give thanks for how their opinions help inform yours.

– Realize that no political solution will ever be a compete solution. Only Christ’s rule and reign at His return, will put everything in its place. Until then, any human attempt at peace, compassion and restoration will be incomplete.  It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to make a difference.  We must.  But none of our solutions will secure the future we hope for.

– Pray for one another.  Don’t just pray that God will change the other person’s mind, but pray that God will lead us to keep the unity of the Spirit even we disagree on how to live out his commands.

– Remember that our effective outreach depends on it. Whatever we hope to accomplish in showing love to the world, it will be truncated if we don’t love one another.  We don’t have to agree.  We do have to love and the world needs to see it.

Whatever your opinion on how we move forward politically, we must never forget to love one another.

Is it harder for you to love friends, strangers, or family?  Why do you think that is?