Love Plays No Favorites
“… we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people…” (Colossians 1:4 NIV)
When the apostle Paul wrote to the church in Colossae, he told them how he thanked God when he learned of “the love you have for all God’s people.” Notice the spiritual health of that congregation. It wasn’t measured in attendance figures or magnificent buildings but in what really counts before God—love. And it wasn’t just love for some people who were easily lovable or with the same ethnic background. No, he rejoiced in their reputation for loving all the people of God. What a great reputation to have before an unbelieving world!
Instead of a color-blind love like God’s, culture, ethnicity, and race dominate the atmosphere of too much of our church life. Some groups just know they’re not especially welcomed in some churches—it would be better if they stayed with their “own kind.” Others have experienced churches where anger and resentment roil beneath the surface. It seems as if many congregations build walls to keep out anyone not like them instead of welcoming their brothers and sisters—like Jesus did—in love. We like to talk about love, but it’s seldom the divine kind that encompasses “all the saints.”
Once while I was overseas, a friend of mine arranged a meeting with a small group of Christian businessmen. He wanted me to share a specific financial challenge our church was facing in downtown Brooklyn with hopes that these men might be able to help us. When I completed my short, informal presentation, they quite frankly laid out their position. Although blessed with great financial resources, and although extreme poverty rarely exists in their country, they said they only helped “their own kind.” The thought of reaching out in love to people who were not like them seemed unthinkable.
Too often, isn’t that our subconscious frame of reference? If the people are “different”—meaning not our color or ethnicity, or not a part of our congregation or denomination—their plight in life rarely touches our hearts. But God’s love knows no such parameters. It’s free flowing and as wide as the world. It recognizes no outward distinction and overflows every human wall of separation. It’s the love of God, his very essence. God sent Jesus into a world that was as much different or “other” to his holy nature as one could imagine. But divine love has only one target group—the entire human race! God’s love plays no favorites. His followers on earth were given the Holy Spirit so we could “be imitators of God… and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5:1-2, emphasis added).
-Pastor Cymbala (excerpted and adapted from Spirit Rising)
Read Colossians 1:3-14.