Colossians 1:4-5 – “…since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel…”
When Christians are told that we are to love our neighbor, most people instinctively realize that this is a hard command to follow. As Jesus made clear, it’s easier if we like the person, but His standard isn’t that we show love just to those who are lovely; He commands us to love those who are enemies – those whose goal it is to destroy us (Luke 6:27-26). Just as the Good Samaritan cared for someone who would have likely ridiculed and ostracized him if only he had been conscious enough to do so, so we are to intentionally show love, even to those who aren’t loving towards us.
The call to love other Christians is perhaps even more pronounced in the Bible. In John 13:35 Jesus says that it’s through our love towards one another that Jesus will know that we are His disciples. Our love for our brothers and sisters in Christ becomes the visual testament to our commitment to Christ. How we treat those in our spiritual family reflects how we love our Father. Yet, despite the bond we share, this can be difficult to do.
Unless our perspective is on heaven. As the above passage from Colossae shows it is because of the hope that the Colossae church had in their eternal home that they loved one another. They realized that it wasn’t the petty squabbles of this Earth that mattered, but what mattered was what was important for eternity. Their focus wasn’t on this life, but the next, and therefore they were free to overlook offenses, provide for needs, and love sacrificially. They knew that these were the things that had heavenly importance. They knew that they would matter in eternity.
And I can’t help but think there’s a proportional response here.. Most of the time when people think of proportional responses, they think of exacting retribution to the same degree that another harmed us. Instead, for the Christian, our response is in direct proportion to the degree which our eyes are Heaven-focused. We will love others to the degree which we are focused on eternity. The more we hope in heaven, the more actively we demonstrate love
So let’s get our focused Heaven-ward. And as we do so, may we, like the church in Colossae, be known for our love.