Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Calvin on Loving Your Neighbor

I ran across this paragraph yesterday when reading Calvin's Institutes. This is from book 2, chapter 6, section 55. It needs to be heard today as much as at any other time. Emphasis mine.

But I say: we ought to embrace the whole human race without exception in a single feeling of love; here there is no distinction between barbarian and Greek, worthy and unworthy, friend and enemy, since all should be contemplated in God, not in themselves. When we turn aside from such contemplation, it is no wonder we become entangled in many errors. Therefore, if we rightly direct our love, we must first turn our eyes not to man, the sight of whom would more often engender hate than love, but to God, who bids us to extend to all men the love we bear to him, that this may be an unchanging principle: whatever the character of the man, we must yet love him because we love God.

Calvin nailed the interpretation of the Parable of the Good Samaritan. It's amazing how it still speaks today and rebukes us on both the left and the right. Donald Trump is unquestionably of low moral character, yet I must find a way to see him with the love of God and pray for him. I am not permitted to hate him, even if I denounce the reprehensible things he says and does. That is not easy!

For my Christian brothers and sisters who have embraced him, they need to check themselves to ensure that they are embracing the whole human race without exception, not acting with hatred towards Muslims, immigrants, the LGBTQ community, or "liberals." Instead they too need to do the hard work of extending love even if it is not natural or easy. Of course extending love is different than agreeing, but exclusion and oppression are not love.

As we saw in the Super Bowl a couple of days ago, the country longs for healing. How can we as the church bring God's healing if it doesn't start in our hearts and communities first? If only we would focus more on love than on being right!

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