Remember the rich young man who seeks to justify himself to Christ by asking, “Who is my brother?” Recall the story of the good Samaritan who stops to help the injured man along the road? Despite that the injured man and the Samaritan are enemies in everyday life, this day one is a brother to the other.
I get the sense we ask God this same question all the time. Hey God, who is my brother anyway? Am I supposed to really love people I strongly disagree with, love people who hate my ideas and oppose what I consider to be good and just? Am I expected to love the person who cheats, steals, lies, murders, drinks and drives, cuts me off in traffic, runs red lights, never bathes… You get the picture. I am certain God’s response is “As a matter of fact, yes.”
“And this commandment have we from Him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.”
The author of 1 John is speaking primarily, I think, of the love we should show to our brothers and sisters in Christ, but God clearly calls us also to love our enemies, to bless those who curse us, to forgive those who abuse and misuse us. Jesus says it’s easy to love those who love us, treat those well who treat us well, bless those who bless us. The love that is hard is the love that shows we are who we claim to be: His children.