Summary: To love as Jesus loved is to love, not based on our opinions or prejudices or feelings of justice at any given time. It is unconditional; it includes everyone and excludes no one. And it goes all the way!!!!
“Just Like That”
By: Ken Sauer, Pastor of East Ridge United Methodist Church, Chattanooga, TN
I think it’s safe to say that this is the simplest, clearest and hardest command of all!
Perhaps more than any other single verse in the New Testament, this one should cause us to rise up out of our seats, run out of the church building and never come back!
“Love one another.”
Now on one level, that’s no sweat.
Think nice thoughts, do an occasional good deed, and center your life around the tenets of Hallmark.
We know how to do that because we are generally nice people, right?
But wait a minute.
Jesus doesn’t stop there.
He also says, “As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”
That’s the part that many people run from.
We might think love is a pretty good idea, but Jesus doesn’t say to love just any old way.
But rather, Jesus’ Way.
Just like Jesus did.
Just like a Cross.
You die to self loving Jesus’ Way.
Loving Jesus’ Way is not safe or comfortable.
But this is a non-negotiable command for all those who choose to follow Christ!
What Jesus teaches compared to how we live may seem too much to bare.
Do we really love that way?
Do we really want to love that way?
It can be a real dilemma.
One Christian has written, “It is decidedly impractical to love as Jesus loves. It’s amazing to me that we church people aren’t mad at Jesus more than we are.
For His teachings challenge much of what we hold so dear.
[But] if you read the Bible closely, prepared to be bothered.”
To love as Jesus loved is to love, not based on our opinions or prejudices or feelings of justice at any given time.
It is unconditional; it includes everyone and excludes no one.
And it goes all the way!!!!
One man writes, “The phone rang some time ago.
It was a friend whose daughter had been murdered in a nearby state—incredibly painful and tragic.
On a hike once this friend told me that he eventually wanted to visit his daughter’s murderer.
Well, that day arrived.
That’s why he was calling.
He and his wife had been to the sentencing.
‘You know,’ he said on the phone, ‘we talked to him and offered him our forgiveness.”
There was a silence for a while.
Somehow I wasn’t expecting this.
‘And you know,’ he went on, ‘it looks like we’ll be visiting him from time to time.
We went down there thinking there would be some sort of closure to the trip, an end to all this pain, and here it seems God is opening up a new chapter in our lives.’”
A long time ago, as He hung on the Cross, Jesus the Lamb of God prayed for the very people who were killing Him.
“Father forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing.”
“Love one another,” He said.
Just like that!
Now that’s some heavy duty theology.
It may take a while for us to get our minds around it…a life-time perhaps.
But it is also at the core of getting to know and discovering Who the true God is, and what God’s calling is for us.
Shallow thinking and shallow loving often keep good company.
But this is rich; this is anything but shallow!!!
Jesus’ love is all about the other person.
It overflows into service, not in order to show off how hard-working it is, but because that is its natural form.
Jesus’ love is obedient.
Throughout Jesus’ ministry on earth, He emphasized that He was in constant communion with God the Father.
He didn’t do anything without the Father’s permission, guidance and consultation.
Remember, Jesus said, “I and the Father are one.”
And that obedient love brought Jesus into some amazing places.
It took Him to a wedding where He turned water into wine…
…and it also took Him to the dark places of outer society where the lepers lived…
…It caused Him to raise a dead girl back to life…
…calm a storm…
…heal the demon possessed…
…weep for a dead friend…
…face the institutions of His day with unwavering confidence and truth…
…teach the masses about the Love of God…
…rescue a woman about to be stoned…
…heal the blind; make friends with prostitutes and tax collectors…
…have immeasurable patience with a band of disciples who never seemed to “get it”…
…heal on the Sabbath…
…live radically to the core…
… go all the way to the Cross for the sins of the world!!!...
As followers of Jesus, where are we called to go; who are we called to love and what does that look like?
In his book, Soul Graffiti: Making a Life in the Way of Jesus, author Mark Scandrette writes about a time when, on a bus ride home from work, he befriended an elderly man who seemed lonely and in need of a friend.