We Have Not Loved Well

We are to love well. Jesus said love would be the mark of His followers—love for each other and even love for their enemies.

But we have not loved well.

For 2,000 years, believers have bickered and fought with each other. Splitting hairs and splitting churches over minor disagreements and going to war over major ones.

And we’ve behaved even worse with those outside the faith. We’ve judged unbelievers when they behave like unbelievers. We criticize those who are different from us. Different social backgrounds from ours. Different ethnic heritages. And especially, different sins.

We’ve concluded that if someone’s sins are different from ours, their sin is worse. We create hierarchies of sin, with ours on the bottom rung of severity and theirs at the top.

Instead of taking a stand against injustice, we’ve sat on the sidelines, allowing the world to fight for the rights of the downtrodden.

And then along came a godly man who spoke truth and stood for righteousness. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who called people to non-violent protests of unrighteous laws. Who called believers out in one of the saddest commentaries on the body of Christ.

In 1963, Dr. King said, “At 11:00 on Sunday morning…we stand at the most segregated hour in this nation.” While we may have made strides in this area, more than 50 years later many Christians still worship God with people who look and act like themselves—racially, socially, economically, and politically.

This year, our nation celebrates the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. on January 21. In honor of MLK day, let’s consider some of his oft-repeated quotes. Quotes that spur Christians to live out their faith and testimony both inside and outside the body of Christ.

Quotes such as:

  • “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
  • “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
  • “The time is always right to do what is right.”
  • “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
  • “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”
  • “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”

Whether or not the body of Christ has loved well in the past, there’s always room for improvement. God’s Word has quite a bit to say on this subject, including these verses:

  • “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44 ESV).
  • “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35 ESV).
  • “With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:2-3 ESV).
  • “And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony” (Colossians 3:14).
  • “If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen” (I John 4:20 ESV).

Someday in eternity, we will all stand before the throne of God, praising Him for who He is and thanking Him for who we are: redeemed people from every tribe, language, and nation. Until that day, we still have many friends to make…and to love well.


17 responses to “We Have Not Loved Well”

  1. Debra Allard says:

    This is an excellent post, Ava. Christians are called to love our neighbors as ourselves. Christ said loving God and our neighbors is the greatest commandment. Regardless of color, size, or shape, we are all equal in His eyes. Thank you for posting this. 💗

  2. Ava Pennington says:

    Thank you, Deb.

  3. Deb Molnar says:

    Enjoyed this post immensely and will remember to “love well.” I am having open heart surgery on MLK Day, so I had been researching what he said about the heart in order to make my day more focused and meaningful. Of course, I had to see what heart-related things there are with MLK – after all, it’s always been about hearts. From his sermon, “The Drum Major Instinct”, preached on February 4, 1968, he said, “You only need a heart full of grace.” A heart full of grace sounds like a great place to start to love well.

  4. Ava Pennington says:

    Love your perspective…and that quote, Deb!
    And for your heart surgery Monday, may the Lord reveal Himself in a mighty way as Yahweh Rapha, your Healer, as He guides the hands of your surgeon!

  5. Barbara says:

    Thank you. I’m reading One Blood One Race by Ken Ham and Walters. It speaks to what you wrote.

  6. Ava Pennington says:

    Thank you, Barbara. Yes, one race: the human race.

  7. Evie says:

    Thank you, Ava! Great perspective! We all bleed red! Hopefully, we can ALL give love someday!!!!

  8. Ava Pennington says:

    Thank you, Evie.

  9. Thank you for the challenge to love well. In the end, it doesn’t matter if we can quote the Bible cover to cover or “speak in the tongues of men and of angels.” It matters how we love

  10. Michelle says:

    I am a firm believer that, when all is said and done and we stand before the Lord, the only thing that will really matter is that our lives had shown we, indeed, loved well. You captured the spirit of MLK day perfectly!

  11. Claudio says:

    Thank you Ava. “Whether or not the body of Christ has loved well in the past, there’s always room for improvement”. This line resonates with me. More need to hear it and act on it. Appreciate you sharing your work.

  12. Ava Pennington says:

    Thank you, Claudio.

  13. amen great post very powerful wake up call for sure.

  14. Ava Pennington says:

    Thank you, Stephen.

  15. Sad that this truth still largely applies today, “In 1963, Dr. King said, “At 11:00 on Sunday morning…we stand at the most segregated hour in this nation.” While we may have made strides in this area, more than 50 years later many Christians still worship God with people who look and act like themselves—racially, socially, economically, and politically.” So ironic that the very place that should be the most accepting, inclusive, loving, forgiving, generous so often does not reflect that call. Praying that the body of Christ can do better in the future.

  16. Diana Owens says:

    Ava
    Thank You. So well written. If he could only come back and see that we have not moved very much.

  17. What an inspiration and challenge to do better! May we reflect the love and compassion of our Savior for a watching world. Help us, oh Jesus. We need You.

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