He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
With that forceful statement, John sets the bar for our faith incredibly high, because he's talking about loving as God does. This is exceedingly difficult, as I've found out many times in my own life. People who hurt me, attempt to destroy me, make every effort to ruin my life, become my enemy for no reason...all these are tough to love. I often wonder at this requirement, because it requires a truly supernatural response to evil, and I suppose I could say that it's "too much." But it's there. It's there and it's prominent. In my face, if you will. Painful, because it draws out of me what I don't like--the hidden motives in my heart. If I examine myself properly, I find a tremendous lack here, and I think, "Why is this command here?" Am I not supposed to be angry with evil? Am I not supposed to defend myself?
(yes to both)
Then how can I love all the people who hate me? It's never easy, and it takes both self-examination ("What are my real feelings toward this person?") and a commitment to be like the Father:
43 You have heard that it's been said, you shalt love your neighbor, and hate your enemy.
44 But I say to you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which mistreat you and persecute you;
45 That you may be the children of your Father who is in heaven: for he makes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
46 For if you love them who love you, what reward have you? do not even the tax collectors the same?
47 And if you salute your brethren only, what do you more than others? do not even the tax collectors so?
48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
Why did He have to say that? It makes life so complicated, and so difficult.
But He DID say it. I have to find a way (or ways) to do that. I have to seek Him until He gives me strength for that.
And not tomorrow. Today. Now.
Lord, help me be like You.