For some time now, I've been thinking about what it means to love the brethren. I know people and am friends with people who don't always agree with some things which are very important to my family and church. However, that doesn't mean we should stop loving them, praying for them, and fellowshipping with them. In fact, as Pastor Paul plainly stated (1 John 4:21), we are obligated to love one another. Who are we to hate others? Are we (who are sinners as well as them) somehow better than they are? Of course not! As 1 John 4:20 clearly says,
"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." (1 John 4:20 ESV)
How true are those words!
My dad pointed out today that hating your brother isn't always open hostility. It can be that but sometimes it's just hateful thoughts about someone. This just happened to me last week. I saw a boy on our block being dropped of by the bus after school. My first thought about him was, "I bet that boy is just like every other unsaved bully". Yesterday's sermon reminded me of that incident. It broke me to think that I had been hateful to a brother and one I didn't even know anything about! At the same time though, I was reminded that, through God's mercy and love, He forgives His children for their sins. It's so easy to resort to the deeds of the flesh but through God's grace, we will learn to love one another.
My friend, Jasmine, has some excellent thoughts on the subject as well.