Love. Love is the topic today; the attribute we hold up this week, the 4th week of the Advent Season. One doesn't have to dig terribly deep in the bible to find examples of love. Jesus was the embodiment of God's love for us, and there are many examples of that love, not the least of which was his death. Jesus was the most compassionate, loving individual to ever live. Emulating just a pinch of his love should be our main goal as Christians, his followers.
Yes, there is example after example of Jesus' love throughout the Gospels. You will see him reaching out a hand to the unclean, conversing with the undesirable, having dinner with the unlovable. This is who Jesus was and he made no apologies for it, even when he was criticized by the pious religious leaders of the time. In order to show ourselves as his people, we are called upon to do as Jesus did and show love and compassion even to those whom others would reject out of hand, without a backward glance or a pang of guilt. This is a stretch sometimes, but it does get easier with practice.
What we also have to remember about Jesus' love is that it is not enough just to love. Even if we love those who put us down, those whose lives we find repugnant and those who just irk us for whatever reason, we haven't done enough. As Christians we have to go one step further, just as Jesus did, not only loving, but also combating hate. This is another subject Jesus made no bones about; he didn't tolerate people who were full of maliciousness. He was vocal and unwavering in his attempt to educate people that we don't fight hate with more hate, or with apathy, for that matter. The only way to fight hatred is to cover it with love. 1 Peter 4:8 says that love covers a multitude of sins. I believe that verse does not speak of simply covering our own sin with love, but rather covering the sins of the world with the love of Christ as we spread it around wherever we see hatred and meanness carried out.
Yes, we have to speak up and expose hatred, even when it is hard; even when we know it will be painful for us to stand out and stand up for what we believe is right. Even if it is a fellow Christian we see displaying anger and hatred, we still have to speak up. We cannot allow our own comfort to outweigh our call to cover hatred with love. To spread the love of Christ effectively, we must shine a light on, and draw attention to hatred. It has been said that the only the only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing (Edmund Burke 1729-1797). We cannot look at hatred, turn away and close the door. We have to open the door, look hatred in the face and shine the love of Jesus on it. The bright light of Christ's love will invariably outshine the hatred, burning it out in the shadows. It is what Jesus did and it is the least we can do in his name.
This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. John 3:19-20