28th July 2011

Living In Love

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.”
1 John 4:16 (NIV UK)

Our hearts and prayers go out to the families and friends of the victims of the terrorist attack that took place in Norway.

The gunman claimed to be part of a right-wing movement that seeks to restore Christian values to societies throughout Europe. Some claim that the Bible itself validates violence towards others. Is the Old Testament not full of accounts in which people are slaughtered so that the true faith may progress? What about history? What about all the battles fought in the name of the Cross? Surely Christianity is a belligerent religion?

Does the God of the Bible teach us to destroy our enemies? Actually no, he doesn’t. He proposes the opposite. Jesus Christ, described in the Bible as the only true reflection of what God really says and thinks, explained the mind of God on such matters. He was very clear. He preached against the philosophy of war in the Old Testament. He taught this: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy’. But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in Heaven” (Matthew 5:43—45 NIV UK). Those were revolutionary words then and they are still today. 

The thought is that God’s children get involved in acts of love, not hate. Why? The apostle John tells us above: because “God is love”. Love is the greatest Christian value.

Christ’s teaching is vulnerable, not just to the onslaught of its enemies, but also to the fanaticism of those who claim to follow it and yet twist and misapply it. If anything, such concerns strengthen the need to preach what Christ said to all people everywhere.

In the midst of Norway’s deep sorrow there is a brave determination that what happened on their island paradise will not destroy their national ideals of tolerance and freedom. And rightly so. Also, we Christians must not let this terrible tragedy erode the urgency to proclaim the Bible’s good news of peace and reconciliation.

Let’s weep with those who weep and hold high Christ’s message of love. 

Great God, please comfort the families and friends of the victims of those who died in the Norwegian terrorist attack And be with the survivors that they may find peace in you. Help us all to live in your love, and to express that love to all people. In Jesus’ name.

Study by James Henderson

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