Love isn't an easy thing to do. If you do it right, it will cost you everything.
To love someone you must lay aside your wants and focus on their needs. Their happiness takes precedence over your comfort, and their joy becomes more important than your own.
To be honest, I do not often do it right. Often I am too overcome by my own desire to be comfortable or happy to love someone else in this way. Love is difficult. It is challenging. Love is not for the faint of heart.
In Matthew chapter 25, Jesus gives us a glimpse into the future. We get to see what will count for Eternity when we stand before Him at the end of our lives. Surprisingly, what counts is how we have loved others.
"Whatever you have done for one of the least of these, my brothers, you have done it unto me."
Many of us will be surprised at how little weight Jesus gives to church attendance, tithing, drinking alcohol, using swear words, or wearing Christian t-shirts. In fact Jesus makes no reference to any of these things when it comes to the final Judgement. He seems to only care about one thing: How did you love others?
It's not a shock really, since the main command he gave to his followers was to love one another as he loved them. (see John 13:34)
So, in the end, it's all about the love we show, not the outward acts of power and service in the name of God.
Jesus was also clear that we are called to love those who don't love us in return.
"If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Don't even sinners do that?" (Luke 6:32)
Our calling, as followers of Jesus, is to love not only those who love us (our parents, our wives, our children, our best friend, etc.), but also those who do not love us (the guy on the freeway who cut us off, the family member who infuriates us, that annoying guy at church, our co-workers, our stupid boss, etc.).
Love, as I said before, is not an easy thing to do.
That's why we need to be changed, from the inside out, so that we can become the sort of people who love unconditionally and extravagantly.
"So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" - 2 Cor 5:16-17
As far as impossible things go, forgiveness is no walk in the park either. I'm reminded of a great quote from the film, "Into The Wild" where one character says to the main character, "When you forgive you love, and when you love God's light shines down on you."
Another thing that happens when you forgive is that you set yourself free.
"Forgiveness is giving up the right to retaliate. Forgiveness is the willingness to have something happen the way it happened. It's not true that you can't forgive something; it's a matter of the will, and you always have the choice. Forgiveness is never dependent on what the other person does or does not do; it is always under our control. Forgiveness is giving up the insistence on being understood.... Jesus forgave those who crucified him. This is a radically new way of thinking. For those who accept and practice this discipline, there is a release of energy and a sense of freedom." - Pixie Koestline Hammond; "For Everything There Is a Season."
Evil is overcome, then, not by force or by destructive power but by the amazing love of God. Only His perfect brand of love - without strings attached, where only the good of the person being loved is taken into account- can overcome a world of hate and violence and pain.
Like it or not, you and I, the followers of Jesus, have a mandate. We are commanded to love. We are compelled to forgive. Our only hope is to become like Jesus so that we can love like Jesus loved. This is the only hope possible for our troubled world.
Do we really believe that the greatest weapons against hate are love and forgiveness? Do we really put our faith in towels and basins of water as instruments of change? Do we actually trust in the power of daily dieing to ourselves so that Christ can live through us?
"To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory." - Colossians 1:27