We must love our neighbours. This is a foundational command of Jesus and an obligation of every one of his followers. It has always been so but maybe today it is especially important. Our world is broken and full of hostility. We live in an age where people, via social media, are so quick to give offence. Or to take offence, and then quickly tell the world, via the same social media, how offended they are. So we must love our neighbours. Really love them. But what does that require?
I could expand on this myself but in situations like this I like to defer to one greater than I. Here is John Calvin’s encouragement to love our neighbours:
“God not only forbids us to be murderers, but also prescribes that everyone should study faithfully to defend the life of his neighbor, and practically to declare that it is dear to him. . . . There are, consequently, two parts in the Commandment, — first, that we should not vex, or oppress, or be at enmity with any; and secondly, that we should not only live at peace with men, without exciting quarrels, but also should aid, as far as we can, the miserable who are unjustly oppressed, and should endeavour to resist the wicked, lest they should injure men as they list.”
John Calvin, Calvin’s Commentaries, Vol. 5: Harmony of the Law, Part III
Think carefully on what is explained here. How are we to love our neighbours?
-We must not murder them.
-We must defend their lives and their right to live in safety.
-We must be heard to say (declare) that their lives are dear to us. We have to be vocal in our culture about the value of each and every human life.
-We shouldn’t antagonize or hold grudges.
-We must not pick fights with them.
-We must assume the best of them.
-We must help them, as much as we can, to be free from what holds them back (oppresses them).
-We must protect them from those who would hurt them (the wicked).