"Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister" 1 John 4:20-21
Early mornings are usually not my thing, but one morning recently I found myself awake at 4 AM. Not being able to go back to sleep, I reached for the remote control and started some intense channel surfing. I could not find a thing I wanted to watch......that is until I noticed the Hallmark Channel had reruns of the 1960's show, "Mr. Ed." For the benefit of those whose culture is different from mine, I will explain that Mr. Ed was a talking horse. His owner, Wilbur, was the only one he talked to, but Ed and Wilbur carried on complete conversations. The talked about neighborhood things, and usually there was a scolding in store for Mr. Ed since he got caught regularly stealing apples from the neighbor's apple tree.
Oh, the neighbor, Roger. He was not fond of any kind of animals and having a horse living in the barn next door was a constant point of neighborhood disagreement. Wilbur and Roger were pretty good friends except when it came to the horse. And on most occasions, when those two were having one of their neighborly heated arguments, Mr. Ed would sneak away for another stolen apple.
It was following one of those arguments that Wilbur was complaining to Mr. Ed about Roger. Right there in the 4 AM hour, on my HDTV in a black and white comedy rerun, Mr. Ed confided in Wilbur that he needed to be more forgiving toward his neighbor. As Wilbur praised the suggestion from Mr. Ed, it made me wonder if a talking horse might be something I need......or maybe we all need.
Even in the church we could use some improvement on the ways we have chosen to settle our disagreements. Brotherly love is an excellent theme and one we hear about often. Still the above verses let us know that John directly addresses the subject in terms of black and white, with apparently no areas of gray. We cannot love God while hating each other.
Look at the second sentence from 1 John again, "For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen." Biblical verses like these need no more explanation. We know what they mean.
I must tell you there was a little more to the Mr. Ed story. After Ed's revelation that Wilbur should be more forgiving, Wilbur was quick to point out he and Roger would get along fine if it were not for the misbehavior of Mr. Ed. That's it. We, too, can blame our bitter feelings toward a brother, on someone else. But when I go back and look again at the words of 1 John, there is nothing there that lets me place the blame on anyone but me!
One time Jesus was asked, "Which is the greatest commandment?" Matthew 22 records the answer, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind . 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself."