Day 3. Love your brother and sister

[above: Oxford Street Market Scene—Tricia Porter]

Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. (1 John 4:20, NIV)

All men matter. You matter. I matter. It’s the hardest thing in theology to believe. 

—G. K. Chesterton, “The Quick One,” The Scandal of Father Brown

One of the good things about reading detective fiction, like Chesterton’s Father Brown stories or the novels of Dorothy L. Sayers, is that it reminds us of the truth that all of us matter. Even if the murder victim was obnoxious, or completely insignificant in the eyes of the world, enormous quantities of time, money, and effort will be spent in bringing his or her killer to justice because murder is never justifiable. In detective fiction, as in the eyes of God, every life is important. At Christmas we celebrate our God, who became a human being and lived a human life so that all people might know him and find salvation.

Although it is sometimes hard for us to realize how much God loves us and our families and friends, it is often even harder to grasp his equally great love for some other people. How can such a bullying boss or corrupt politician matter to God? Or my friend’s violent ex-husband? Or those drug addicts, immigrants, hoboes, gangsters…? We all have our own blind spots—those people we don’t see through God’s loving, compassionate eyes, but only through the lens of our own prejudices—and perhaps those whom we don’t see at all, those we somehow don’t even notice are there.

Yet the Bible tells us clearly that all people matter so much that if we can’t love the ones we have seen, we can’t really love God. It’s as simple as that. For all people are made in God’s image, and, if we look hard enough, we can see him in each and every one of them.

PRAYER: Dear God, thank you for your great love for us all. Help me to realize how much all people matter and to understand your love for those I find difficult. Amen.

By Suzanne Bray

[Christian History originally published this article in Christian History Issue #133+ in 2019]

Suzanne Bray is professor of English at Lille Catholic University in the north of France. She is also a lay reader in the Church of England. She is editor of The Christ of the Creeds by Dorothy L. Sayers.
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