One of the profound distinctions between Islam and Christianity is that Christianity is centered on the chief command to love. But is this how Christianity in America is known? I wonder how a commitment to cultivating a Christian culture of love would affect the way believers are received in a Western world that’s increasingly hostile to classical Christian ideas? What if the operating system of the Christian life was “be the first to love?”

When encouraging Christians to love others first I find that some want to quickly jump to discussions about God’s justice and holiness. Others will use silly aphorisms like “hate the sin, love the sinner.” But I find these to be excuses for how to not show love. What if conservative Christians operated under the principle to show love first when engaging target adversaries like political liberals and progressives, practicing homosexuals, and pro-abortion advocates? What if “progressive” Christians on the left used the principle of “be the first to love” when engaging conservative Christians who hold to classical Christian commitments? Progressive Christians claim to be different than the “mean conservative Christians”—that is until you read their books, blogs, tweets, and Facebook postings about the “Christian right.”

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