“Those who say, ‘I love God,’ and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen.” -1 John 4:20
From ancient times, God’s people have struggled with loving our brothers and sisters. In Leviticus 19:17-18, we are told: “You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.” Again and again, we hear similar words from Jesus that we are to love one another. And it’s still hard!!!
Raised in Oklahoma, I attended a segregated school until 1960, my junior year in high school. The little town I grew up in had a white school system and a “Negro” school system and there was little or no contact between the two. When, by court order, the two systems were integrated, the blacks bore the brunt of the change, as their school was closed and they were bused to “our” school. For a while there was fear, resentment, and very little real contact between blacks and whites. However, as we began to know one another on a one to one basis, mutual respect and friendships began to develop. Looking back, the lesson for me is that, unlike our omniscient God, we can’t really love our brothers and sisters en masse. Relationships have to develop one on one.
As Fr. Peter Scholtes so beautifully wrote:
“We will work with each other, we will work side by side
We will work with each other, we will work side by side
And we’ll guard each one’s dignity and save each one’s pride
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love
They will know we are Christians by our love.”
Dear God, help us to show our love for you by loving our brothers and sisters. Amen.