â€œI give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.â€ Â Â Â Â John 13:34-35 (HCSB)
Lectionary texts: Acts 11:1-18, Psalm 148, Revelation 21:1-6, John 13:31-35
I hear so many debates about various points of theology. People get very tense and even feel it is their â€œdutyâ€ as a Christian to convince others that their understanding of creation, sin, salvation, and heaven is the correct understanding. It’s interesting to me that when Jesus spoke about commands, His commands were about love. â€œLove each other as I have loved you.â€ If I made that my â€œdutyâ€ every day, I would be, according to Jesus, obedient to His command. How am I doing with this â€œlove commandâ€?
Love those who do not love me. I have a friend who has expressed deep concern for the young man who is charged with the Boston bombing. She is concerned that no one has ever spoken to him about Jesus. That raised a question in my mind: Are there people that I would dismiss from sharing about the Jesus I know? Maybe I think they are beyond saving? Do I think they are too evil to save? Is that my judgment call to make?
In my every day life, there are people who are snotty, mean-spirited and yet Jesus does not qualify who I am exempt from loving. In His life the only ones Jesus treated harshly were the Church leaders who were prideful and used their religion like a whip and chains to put people in bondage. Since Jesus did not tell me I have options, I had better just love and leave the judgment to Him.
Love those with whom I do not agree. There are some people that are just â€œway out thereâ€ from what I believe, whether about my faith or political views or parenting or any number of subjects. Jesus extended His love to the Romans, the tax collectors, the adulterers, and even those who betrayed and deserted Him. He saw the â€œPeterâ€ in them while they were still a Simon. He saw the way they could be and loved them into that path.
Jesus’ love is more than theory. When Jesus commands me to love others as He did, that is a verb, not a noun. He expects me to put some action into that love, not just nod my head and agree that it is good theology. So here are some tough questions for me to consider:
- Do I pray for the President and Congress or do I just see how many snide remarks I can make about them? Praying blessings of God’s wisdom, protection, and obedience to His guidance is an active way to show my love.
- When I see someone who has made choices that has led them into a destructive path, do I still love them or reject them? Even setting boundaries is about love, which makes it so important to seek Jesus’ wisdom on those boundaries.
- In my devotions, blogs, and discussions with people, do I still reflect the love that characterized Jesus’ life? That doesn’t mean homogenizing my beliefs but it means I do not attack someone personally for their beliefs.
Psalm 148 is a wonderful song of praise. And God loves to hear my praises. But I cannot praise my LORD and at the same time speak unloving about one of His children. And make no mistake that everyone created is God’s child. And every one of us needs God’s love.
What the World Needs Now is Love written by Burt Bacharach and sung by Dionne Warwick