1 John 4:7-21 (New King James Version)
Knowing God Through Love:
7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9 In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
Seeing God Through Love :
12 No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us. 13 By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.
The Consummation of Love:
17 Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. 19 We love Him because He first loved us.
Obedience by Faith :
20 If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? 21 And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.
These are the passages our pastor has been preaching on the last few Sundays. He actually has been preaching on I John all year....
As you can see, there is a theme going here.... I have no problem with love. I love my children, my husband, my family, friends, folks in need, little orphans in third world countries.
But I have had a problem with verse 20 for a while....
There is a family that I have had some SERIOUS animosity towards. I guess 'hate' is a strong word so I probably wouldn't use it. But it was pretty close. I knew it was not the right thing to do, but I just couldn't let go. This family has had a big influence on Andy the last 9 months. A negative influence. Without taking credit away from Andy for his own actions, this family has truly enabled him. They don't know Fred or me, yet assumed we did something terrible to make Andy turn against us, and have 'helped' him out financially while he lived away from us.
I am sure that they have no idea the feelings I have had towards them, so they aren't loosing any sleep. But I have been. And every time they showed up at church, I automatically felt my blood boil and was unable to worship all morning. (I know, that is my own doing)
I tell you, it's been a real tough time. I felt ill for the way I was behaving. I mean, being angry at someone who enters church? How sick is that?
I have been praying about this for a while. I have asked close friends to pray for me. And Bro. Tommy's sermons were a constant reminder I needed to let go of my 'hate'.
Then something cool happened. Last Sunday, at the very 1st song in worship, I felt something being lifted from me. Immediately, I no longer felt this anger that has been consuming me for months. I looked for the family, but this time, not to stare at them with 'daggers', but to go to them and say 'good morning, how are you?'. It was an amazing experience. I had nothing to do with it. The Holy Spirit finally cut through the wall I had built all these months and 'fixed me'.
They weren't at church again today. The sermon today was about going to the one you have wronged and apologize. My question was: if they never knew how I felt, do I need to go apologize to them? What if that just 'stirs the pot' and makes things bad? So I am praying about what I should do next.
I don't have any plans on becoming 'best friends' with this family. But I do think I have to answer to God for what I have been feeling.
This is a song that we've been singing at church. An old hymn with a new bridge.... powerful