Summary: When I love like Jesus loves I look beyond what a person has been to what he or she can become
Many of you are probably familiar with this quote that has been attributed to Mahatma Gandhi:
I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.
Although that often repeated statement is attributed to Gandhi, there is actually no evidence that he ever said those words. And based on what he actually did say and write about Jesus, if Gandhi really did like Jesus, it was merely a Jesus of his own making and not the Jesus who is revealed to us in the Bible.
Typically, it seems that statement is used by unbelievers whenever they want to play the “don’t judge me” card.
But in reality, if we were to dig deeper, we would find that most of them really don’t like Christ. Sure, they might “cherry pick” a few of the things that He said that support their worldview. Gandhi certainly did that. He loved the things that Jesus said about turning the other cheek because it supported his teachings on non-violence. But he clearly rejected many of the other things that Jesus taught, most importantly that Jesus is the way and the truth and the life and that no one can come to God except through Him. And most of the people around us that use Gandhi’s quote tend to view Jesus like that too. So it would really be a stretch to say that they actually like Jesus.
But they do have a point when they claim that many Christians are so unlike Christ. While it is a good thing that Christianity rests upon the life, death and resurrection of Jesus and not upon the example of His imperfect disciples, there is no doubt that the gospel would be much more effective if Jesus’ followers did a better job of imitating Him. And that is especially true when it comes to the way that we love other people.
The Biblical accounts show that when Jesus lived out His life here on earth His love abounded in every word that He spoke, every person that He touched, every miracle that He performed. And Jesus has empowered us, as His followers to love other people the same way that He did.
But we don’t always do that very well. I think we would all admit that we’re less loving that we know we ought to be. So for the next eight weeks, we’re going to take a look at how Jesus loved and see what we can learn about His love for others that we can take and put into practice in our day-to-day lives. My goal is always to make my messages relevant to your lives and as practical as possible, but I sense that this series will be one that will provide us with quite a few opportunities to take and apply what we’re learning to help us love both our fellow believers and unbelievers more like Jesus loves us.
So during each of these messages, I am going to suggest some action steps that we can take to apply what we’re learning. Certainly not all of us need to take every single one of these steps, but I am convinced that each week, there will be at least one practical way that each one of us can apply what we’re learning. So I want to encourage you to seriously and prayerfully consider these action steps and commit to carry out at least one of them each week for the next 8 weeks.
Earlier this morning we read a portion of 1 Corinthians 13, where Paul describes what Biblical love ought to look like. Those verses are often read at weddings to describe the kind of love that a husband and wife are to exhibit in the marriage relationship. But certainly those words have a much broader application.
In that chapter Paul personifies love, which is certainly appropriate because Jesus embodied that kind of love. So what I’m going to do for each of the next 8 weeks is to take an aspect of love from 1 Corinthians 13 and show how Jesus dmonstrated that aspect of love in His earthly ministry.
This morning we’ll begin with the first phrase of 1 Corinthians 13:
Love is patient and kind…
(1 Corinthians 13:4 ESV)
Before we look at an account where Jesus exercised that kind of love, let me take a moment to briefly explain the meaning of the terms “patient” and “kind”. Although it is difficult to see this in our English translations, all of the terms that Paul uses to describe love in this chapter, including these two words, are verbs, not nouns. That is significant because it reveals that love is an action and not just a feeling or emotion.
We’ve run across the word “patient” before. The underlying Greek word is a compound word that literally means: