My favorite chapter in the Bible is 1 John 4. John writes about the love of God and how Christians need to love not only one another, but people in general, because God is love.
The idea that God is love is so beautiful. Even if you do not profess to have faith, or reject the existence of God, God still exists everywhere you live and breathe because there are examples of love happening every day.
Verse 12 says, “No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” A.K.A. you can try your hardest, but he will still be there.
When asked if you follow one of the greatest commandments the Lord ever gave, it is easy to give the Bible school answer and say, “Christ loves everyone. Of course I love everyone. There is no one I hate.” I have given that answer many times in my life.
But sometimes the answer is changed to “I mean, yeah, I love them and if they were falling off a cliff I would definitely attempt to save them, but I just don’t want to be around them.”
Sometimes, the answer stays the same, but the actions don’t reflect the answer. How many times have we as Christians claimed to love nonbelievers and yet at the same time separated the conversation into an “us” and “them” scenario?
“God told us to love them even though they (insert sin here) or — my personal favorite — “I don’t understand how they can live their lives like that. Like, don’t they understand how amazing God is? I could never live like them. They need Jesus.”
In the name of attempted conversion, we as Christ followers crucify our fellow sinners — regardless of whether or not they have been saved — and don’t even bat an eyelash at the evident hypocrisy because at face value, it doesn’t really sound like judging.
But through our feeble attempts at loving, which usually turn into backhanded mentions of their shortcomings, we often fail at the one thing Jesus wanted us to do the most, and we succeed at the thing he hated the most. We often set ourselves up as judge, juror and hypocrite, and there is no love. Where there is no love, there is no God, and no one is even convinced in the slightest to join his Kingdom.
So next time you are tempted to utter the word “nonbeliever,” “non-Christian” or any variation of the word in any kind of light, be careful what you are about to say is actually said with the right intent. Judging isn’t the same as loving, after all.