Jacqui Stoner
July 4, 2024
Image of person running away

Read: I John 4:7-21

Reflect: And there we sat side by side at the picnic. It was difficult. My sister in Christ hated my guts at that moment. I just wanted to exit stage left as fast as possible.


I am a “runner”. There, I said it. I am that person who will separate as quickly as possible when there is conflict with another brother or sister in Christ. Give me the person who has deeply wounded me and 100% of the time I emotionally jump out the window when I pass by them again. Frankly, I would rather have a root canal than knowingly sit next to the brother/sister who has hurt me.


The sad fact is that no one in this world hasn’t been deeply injured in his/her relationships to others. This is especially true in the church. That’s why this passage is so challenging: 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates (works against) his [Christian] brother he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should also [unselfishly] love his brother and seek the best for him.


How does a habit of withdrawal effect one’s spiritual life? Dallas Willard in “Renovation of the Heart” comments: Failure to love others as Jesus loves us chokes off the flow of the eternal kind of life that our whole human system cries out for. The old apostle minced no words: “He who does not love abides in death” (verse 14). Notice that he did not say, “He who hates,” but simply, “He who does not love.” The mere absence of love is deadly. It is withdrawal.”


Is it possible to have this type of courageous love – the type is determined by the grace of God to stick around, rather than flee? Non-courageous love means that I do not extend love toward that difficult brother/sister because of my past issues. I am not letting issues control my feelings. On the contrary, I make a choice to extend love because I allow Jesus to revolutionize my character, my inner being.

This is a change by submission: allowing God to change me from the inside out through my relationship with God. Instead of putting on my running shoes when conflict arises, I allow the character of Christ enter my life. Jesus never ran.


Apply: Are you also a “runner”? I remember a congregation where one family was in conflict with another. They always attended the same service, but made sure they sat on opposite sides of the sanctuary. Their spiritual running shoes were always in service. “The mere absence of love is deadly. It is withdrawal.” Jesus love never runs.

Click for more information on how to love well.

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