Summary: Jesus leads us to love each other as he shows us the greatest love of all.
Love As Jesus Has Loved You
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. The Word of God through which the Holy Spirit guides our hearts and minds today is what Jesus spoke, recorded in John 15:12:
My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. (NIV)
Dear friends in Christ Jesus,
“All you need is love,” the Beatles sang years ago. A month or so ago, it seemed that we were reliving flashbacks to the sixties. The news reported anti-war marches and protests. Many of the voices and faces were the same as thirty-five years ago, just a bit more gray. And like in the sixties, there was a lot of talk of love instead of war. “All you need is love.”
If someone simply glances at Jesus words in John 15, he appears to say something similar on the surface. “Love each other,” he says. But when we look at the context of what Jesus says, when we look at the words and thoughts surrounding those words, we see that Jesus is talking about an entirely different kind of love. In fact, compared to Jesus’ love, the love that the Beatles sang about or that the world tauts is no love at all.
Only Jesus’ followers can know and show the love that Jesus talks about. Those who don’t know Jesus may have a similar feeling inside them that they call love. They may do kind and helpful things for others, calling it love. They may even sacrifice themselves in the name of love. And yet they do not know and can not understand the source of true love and the goal of true love.
As we take to heart Jesus’ words, may the Holy Spirit use them to stir up love in our hearts so that we love not as the world loves but as Jesus loves. That’s our theme today: Love As Jesus Has Loved You. Love 1) because you know the source of true love. Love 2) because you know the goal of true love.
1) Because you know the source of true love
It comes as no surprise to you , when I tell you that our God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is the source of true love. “God is love” (1 John 4:16), the Bible says. But simply knowing that fact does not lead us to love like Jesus. Even the devil knows the source of true love, but he still completely lacks love.
We only begin to love as Jesus loves when God’s love touches us and shows us how great his love for us is, so that we believe his promises. We fail to see how great God’s love is because we fail to appreciate how far God’s love reached for us. For instance, how would you answer the question: “Have you ever hated God?” Our inborn, natural self wants to imagine that we’ve always loved God in one way or another. Maybe we are ready to admit that at times, maybe even often, we haven’t loved God as much as we should. But actually hated God? Only a devil-worshipper would hate God, right?
Listen to what Martin Luther confessed: “I did not love, yes, I hated the righteous God” (Luther’s Works, vol. 34, page 336). Or better yet, listen to what the Holy Spirit says through the Apostle Paul, “The sinful mind is hostile to God” (Romans 8:7 NIV).
You and I hated God. Maybe it wasn’t the seething, blood-boiling kind of feeling , but it was hatred none the less. Before Jesus came into our hearts, we hated God. Why? Because our consciences rightly accused us of sin and justly condemned us for failing to meet God’s perfect standard. That’s why Luther had hated God, before the Holy Spirit brought him to believe in God’s free forgiveness through Jesus. He knew that even as a monk he could not live up to the perfect righteousness that God demanded. Anyone who does not know Jesus but claims to love God either is denying there own sinfulness or is worshipping a false god who does not require the perfection that the true God demands. Denying one’s sinfulness is hating God since it calls him a liar. Worshipping a false god is hating God because it replaces him.
So also you and I, we began life as God-haters. Even as babies we failed to see our utter sinfulness and refused to worship the true God. We were God’s enemies. We had and still have nothing of ourselves to attract God’s love. But that is what makes God’s love so unique, so great. We humans love things because they are lovely. God loved us because he is lovely. We are by nature unlovely, unloving, unlovable. Our Triune God, the source of true love, loves you and me and all others who hated him. “God so loved the world” (John 3:16 NIV).