The passage below came from today's meditation in The Power of Purpose. Then, of course, I found it necessary to add my own thoughts.
... God wants us to love everyone, but he is particularly concerned that we learn to love others in his family. Why does God insist that we give special love and attention to other believers? Here's why – God wants his family to be known for its love more than anything else. Jesus said our love for each other – not our doctrinal belief – is our greatest witness to the world. He said, "Your strong love for each other will prove to the world that you are my disciples." (John 13:35 LB)This makes perfect sense, and it could be no other way. God is love. And if we are to represent Him faithfully, His love must characterize our lives--not just our behavior at selected moments, but our lives. Since we'll never perfectly fulfill that ideal, our first prayer should always be, "Father, make me a conduit for Your perfect love. Send someone for You to love through me today."
Loving those who are impossible to love is not optional. Jesus commanded it ...
You have heard that it was said, "You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy" (Lev. 19:18) but I say to you, Love your enemies; bless those cursing you, do well to those hating you; and pray for those abusing and persecuting you, so that you may become sons of your Father in Heaven. Because He causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and unjust. For if you love those loving you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax-collectors do the same? And if you only greet your brothers, what exceptional thing do you do? Do not the tax-collectors do so? Therefore, you be perfect even as your Father in Heaven is perfect.(Matthew 5:43-48 LITV)When we don't feel like loving others, shouldn't we realize how hard it was for His Father to love us? When we don't feel like loving others, we must remind ourselves that He didn't feel like turning Jesus over to evil, sadistic men, to suffer unspeakable humiliation, torture and death in our place ... but He did it anyway, out of love for us. In the midst of His agony, Jesus asked His Father to forgive them, and us, even after we cursed and brutalized Him in the worst way.
Until we decide to shed our self-righteous pride and love even our enemies as Jesus commanded--and modeled--any Christlikeness we show will be just that: a show! It will appeal to Him as the filthy rags of Isaiah 64:6. By acting Christlike without loving as He did, our blasphemy will offend God even worse than that of the Jews and Romans who railed at the dying Jesus on Skull Mountain.
Until we decide to accept His love as an obligation to love others, we will have no right to claim His love, or His blood, for ourselves. The Beatles almost had it right: All ya need is His love.