Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.Matthew 24:12-13
Jesus warns us that in the end it will be easy for our love to grow cold. When He told the Parable of the Wheat and the Weeds (Matthew 13:24-30), He made clear that both the kingdom of darkness and the Kingdom of God will grow together in the world. Good will increase as well as evil. Things will progressively get better and worse at the same time.
As evil in the world grows, things that are clearly wrong will be called right. Embracing sin will be the norm. Those who try to be “liked” in this culture will inevitably compromise truth for the sake of gaining favor with people. And it will be the norm to only love those who are on “your side.” Those who align with one’s ideology will be loved and those who do not will be hated.
In this environment, it is easy for our love for people to grow cold. But Jesus calls us to keep loving, even our perceived “enemy.” Or maybe we should especially love our perceived enemy. This is what sets apart the love of Jesus from what the world calls love. (I say “perceived enemy” because Ephesians 6:12 makes clear that people are not our real enemy. We are in a bigger war against a real enemy that is not flesh and blood.)
But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you…
If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that…
Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.Luke 6:27-28, 32-33, 36
Part of following Jesus in this world is loving people who are very different than us, who disagree with us, and yes, even those who hate Christians. Loving others is about what is happening in our heart and mind when we show acts of love toward people. Some people will receive our loving actions but not everyone will. Sometimes our loving actions will actually be seen as offensive. But our standard of love is Jesus, not people’s response.
When I love my kids, sometimes they receive it as love and sometimes they don’t like it. Telling my kids the truth and setting certain boundaries (like bedtime or limiting electronics or certain movies) doesn’t always feel like love to them, but it is the most loving thing I can do as a parent. Me loving them isn’t based off of their reaction to my love. It’s not based on whether they understand that this is loving act. My love is not based on their standards but on Jesus, our ultimate standard of love.
The same is true when we love our perceived enemies. We must love people, but sometimes that love won’t be received. And that’s okay! Keep loving! Jesus loved us perfectly. He is perfect love. Yet, so many have rejected His love instead of receiving it. This is part of the deception of the real enemy and the fallenness of our world. We shouldn’t be surprised by it.
Pastor Danny Silk says it this way in his book Keep Your Love On:
“Yes, it’s vulnerable and scary to keep your love on toward someone who has become a perceived threat—you cannot guarantee what he or she is going to do. But you can guarantee your own choice. And you can always choose connection.”Danny Silk
Let’s fight to keep our love on. Let’s work to not let our love for people grow cold.