John the beloved—also known as the apostle of love—offers some convicting words in his epistles. While John’s Gospel demonstrates the living, breathing God of love made flesh in the person of Jesus, his epistles speak our need to manifest that love one to another—and connects this love tightly to our relationship to Christ, deception and even salvation. As humans, this is not always easy. We often disagree and separate and instead of acting in love we act in hate.
In 1 John 2:9-11, he shares, “Whoever says he is in the light but hates his brother is in darkness even until now. Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and in him, there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in darkness, and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.”
Hateful Words Should Not Mark Separations
John, the apostle of love, spoke some strong words that should spur us all to reevaluate our love walk, especially in the face of separations. In this season, I’m seeing hatred rise up in the midst of believers—even in ministry. The very ones who should be modeling the way of love are crucifying each other on social media, in green rooms, and in their own minds. I don’t see this level of hatred between ministers in the Bible. Two examples come to mind:
We Can Disagree And Still Love One Another
Paul and Barnabas had a strong disagreement and went their separate ways. But these two men of God didn’t try to tear one another’s ministries down. In fact, Paul later told the church at Corinth Barnabas’ ministry was worthy of support (see 1 Cor. 9:6). Paul later told the church at Colossae to welcome John Mark if he showed up in their midst (see Col. 4:10). And Paul even requested John Mark’s presence in his second letter to Timothy, though Bible scholars say this was likely a decade later after Mark matured (2 Tim. 4:11).
Likewise, when Abraham and Lot separated, they didn’t try to destroy one another’s reputations with secret statements and not-so-secret phone calls casting aspersions of wrongdoing on innocent hands. No, Abraham actually went to war to rescue Lot from danger (see Gen. 14) and later interceded for his life when God set out to destroy Sodom (see Gen. 18:22-19:29). This is true love.
Walking in Love During Disagreement
In the Paul-Barnabas/Abraham-Lot incidents, we have scriptural precedent for people of God agreeing to disagree without strife and even commending each other’s work in the Lord publicly. But whether it’s leaving a church, divorcing a spouse, quitting a job or cutting ties with a once-best-friend, so often Christians choose, rather, to launch social media smear campaigns and vicious lies about a person’s character and motives.
Why can’t modern-day believers disagree about issues and go their separate ways without the passive-aggressive Facebook Live videos and subliminal status updates? James offers some insight:
“Where do wars and fights among you come from? Do they not come from your lusts that war in your body? You lust and do not have, so you kill. You desire to have and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have, because you do not ask. You ask, and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your passions.” (James 4:1-3, MEV)
Disagree And Separate: Final Words
Beloved, strife is an abomination to God (see Prov. 6:16-19). Strife affects the anointing and the flow of the Holy Ghost (see Ps. 133:1-3). Strife grieves the Holy Spirit (see Eph. 4:30). Strife destroys relationships (see Prov. 17:9). Strife is rooted in anger (see Prov. 29:22), hatred (see Prov. 10:12), pride (see Prov. 13:10) and a quarrelsome, self-seeking spirit (see Gal. 5:14-18; Luke 22:24-27).
Ministers, let’s be an example to the body of Christ about how to behave in separations. Saints, let’s walk in love even when we can’t walk in agreement. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God (see Mark 5:9).