Love your neighbor…

‘Love your neighbor as yourself’ reminds us in our usage of the English language the word ‘love’ has a thousand and one variable meanings. I Love you I Love sleep I Love ice cream I Love my family and on it goes. But the love used in Scripture is agape meaning Godly love, pure, unadulterated love that knows no bounds. To love like that subverts any desire to be greedy or uncontrollable in our dealings with the rest of humanity.

To love like this is also to seek and offer forgiveness. A young Pacific POW returned home in late 1945 to a loving family who surrounded him with their presence. But the scars inflicted on him of starvation and brutality haunted him especially at night. The
brutal sergeant who whipped the prisoners with a belt or tied them to a tree for days seemed to always be in his dreams. His only way out was alcohol… until his wife brought him to a church service where he heard about forgiveness and the need to forgive those who so deeply hurt.

This young man went back to Japan, sought out the officers and enlisted who had so brutally inflicted this kind of pain on him and thousands of others. He never could contact the one who had so deeply brutalized him, but in the act of forgiving he found grace to live well. Most of us here have never experience that kind of brutality but we all need to forgive and we all need to seek forgiveness. To bind up wounds or to leave them sore is a choice we all have; we also have the choice to offer both forgiveness and God’s boundless love.

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