Someone cut in front of me at Starbucks today.
You know that welling of indignation? The "who do they think they are?" feeling that makes you want to swat them out of the way so you can get your Starbucks before them? Yeah. I definitely am not filled with any sort of "brotherly love" in these moments.
Brotherly love is something that Jesus touches several times in the Bible. Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:44 to "love [our] enemies [and] pray for those who persecute [us]"; however, when we constantly view the people who might have hurt us as our enemies, it can become a superior love. We look to Jesus' second greatest commandment for a better example of what brotherly love really is; this is where He commands us to "love your neighbor as yourself". Viewing people as our neighbors rather than our enemies is both a paradigm shift and a way of imitating the love of God to those who hate Him.
One of my favorite verses, though, is one spoken in observation of Jesus' sacrifice; it's found in 1 John 3:16 - "By this we know love, that [Jesus] laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for [our] brothers."
Laying our lives down can be more than just a literal sacrifice; it can be a daily, inner sacrifice. When someone cuts in front of you at Starbucks, you can either react in anger or react in love. God's gift of free will goes hand-in-hand with God's example of love: we have the choice to love the people around us. While some of us may deal with someone cutting in front of us as a "dying-to-self" moment, it is such a minuscule act in comparison to the sacrifices of these people.
Groups of Muslims in the Philippines sheltered Christians in their basements to prevent them from being killed by the Islamic State.
With little thought for his own safety, a man chased down the shooter of a Tennessee church and was able to subdue him.
Though no one deserved it, a man laid His life down for the people of the world so that they could experience true forgiveness from their sins.
The first two stories involved people who were willing to die for the safety of their fellow brothers. What is awesome is that in the first story, it was a group of Muslims who were caring for persecuted Christians. We do not often see that care between religions here in America. The last story is one you might be familiar with: Jesus' sacrifice for our sins.
The foundation of true Christianity is in love: God sent Jesus because He loved us; Jesus led an example of what we should be like because He loved us; Jesus died on the cross and rose again because He (wait for it)... loved us. Jesus is our example to follow a perfect, unrelenting love.
His love crosses all boundaries, fights through the most broken hearts, and sacrifices itself to forgive those we have deemed "unforgivable". While our human, sin-tainted love cannot extend to the reaches of Jesus' love, we can use His model to love both our brothers and our "not-so brothers".
By Jesus' example, we know what love looks like. We know what love does. We know what love is.