IN JOHN 13:34 THE LORD SAYS : "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another."
HOW CAN ANYONE, EVEN GOD, COMMAND LOVE? AT LEAST HOW CAN ANYONE COMMAND WHAT MOST OF US CALL LOVE -- THAT EMOTION, THAT FEELING OF ATTACHMENT OR ENDEARMENT TO OTHERS? MAYBE JESUS WASN'T TALKING ABOUT THAT WHICH WE TYPICALLY CALL LOVE TODAY.
A. WHAT IS LOVE ANYHOW??
MODERN MAN LOVES EVERYTHING FROM WOMEN TO FRIED CHICKEN -- AT LEAST HE SAYS HE DOES. TO SOME, LOVE IS NO MORE THAN SEXUAL DESIRE. TO SOME, LOVE IS A DEVOTION THAT IDEALIZES AND IDOLIZES THE LOVED ONE AND THINKS THEM PERFECT REGARDLESS OF WHAT THEY DO.
TO OTHERS, LOVE IS A SELFISH SENTIMENT THAT CRIES OUR FOR ATTENTION AND FLATTERY. SOME PARENTS ARE TOO STRICT BECAUSE THEY "LOVE" THEIR CHILDREN AND WANT THEM TO DO EXACTLY RIGHT. OTHERS ARE TOO PERMISSIVE BECAUSE they "love" their children and can't bear to correct them.
some marriages quickly fall apart because they are founded on a greedy, grasping, sentiment called "love" -- others last a lifetime because their love is an unselfish balance of give and take, expressed in mutual submission and sacrifice.
our present society has the connotation of love as being only an emotion or a feeling. it's that lump in your throat, or knot in your stomach when you're in the presence of that certain girl or guy.
it's a warm and passionate embrace between lovers, it's the desire to have or to possess someone as your own for all of life.
but this isn't what jesus is talking about at all. jesus isn't saying that the world will know we're christians because we're always going around kissing and hugging each other. others aren't to know we are his disciples because we always tell each other -"i love you," or because we "feel" warm fuzzies toward them.
the love christ commands is not so much something to feel, as something to do. it isn't so much an emotion as it is an action. the lord himself gave us the gist of love in the sermon on the mount when he said: "Therefore, however you want people to treat you, so treat them, for this is the Law and the Prophets." (Mat 7:12)
Jesus is talking about our behavior, about how we act toward others, how we treat them. That's why Jesus could say: "a new commandment i give to you." you can't command an emotion -- but you can command an action.
the love jesus is talking about here is an act of the will. it represents not so much an
involuntary response to conditions, as it does a deliberate choice, a calculated set of the mind. love is not an emotion, it's a policy.
christian love is not something you fall into. this is why it can be commanded. we need to begin thinking of love as a concept of action and service and ministry governed by the will and intellect, rather than as an emotion governed by fickle feelings and deceptive desires.
one of the greatest temptations on earth is to reduce love to human terms -- to talk love instead of living it. love is something you do!
words are cheap (unless you hire a lawyer). it's easy to talk love.
i saw a comic strip where a young man was declaring his undying love for his girl friend:
"i love you with all my heart," he said, "i love you more than life itself; my love would move mountains and change the course of mighty rivers for you," he says fervently.
to all this, in the second frame, his girlfriend replies, "can you come over Saturday and help me clean the junk out of my garage?"
in the final frame the guy looks up and says, "I hate people who take advantage." (SS 839)
we can talk about how much we love people -- but the bottom line is whether we care enough to know their needs and then do our best to meet them. a man was trying to read a serious book and his little boy kept Interrupting him. he would lean against his knees and say, "daddy, i love you."
the dad would give him a pat on the head and say, rather absentmindedly, "yes, son, i love you, too." and he would kind of give him a little push away so he could keep on reading.
but this didn't satisfy the boy, and finally he ran to his father and said, "i love you daddy," and
he jumped up on his dad's lap and threw his arms around him and gave him a big hug, explaining: "and i just had to do something about it!"