Summary: Something is missing from the church today, and people are starting to notice. Too often the church fails to offer what it advertises: life.
2. The Greatest Commandment
February 21, 2010
Love your Neighbor
I find it amusing when people talk about the loving feeling they have for each other. We often think of love as this warm blanket on a cool winter night. Love is like snuggling up to a fire it just fills you with nice toasty feelings all over. I don’t believe that people who think like this know what love is. Erwin McManeus writes in his book the Barbarian Way that love is not so much a guarantee of warm feelings and happiness as love is a promise of pain. The more you love someone the more you give them permission to hurt you. You see the truth is love is not an emotion. Loving like Jesus is not about having warm fuzzy feelings towards people it is about living a lifestyle where the community of the church impacts the world around them like Jesus did.
I heard about this guy in Lexington Kentucky who was eating at a Waffle House and his waitress was a single mom with a lot of medical bills and financial trouble and she was working really hard trying to just provide for her kids. This guy left her a $1,000 tip with a note and than ran out and hid in the bushes. He watched as she read the ticket and was so overwhelmed she just started crying. He went back in side and began to talk with her and to share Jesus with her and you know that is what we are talking about when we say love like Jesus. Now I know that most of us don’t have an extra $1000 lying around but we have something. You may not be able to do something like this, but you can do something.
We looked last week at the most important commandment in the law to love God with all that you are. That is the foundation for learning how to love like Jesus. If you don’t love God with all that you are you cant love like Jesus. Then the second most important commandment to love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law is summed up in these two commands. If we want to love like Jesus this is where it starts we have to love our neighbor.
There are some lessons we learn in life the hard way. For example as a son growing up I can tell you that it is a bad idea to tell your mother or anyone else that speaks with your mother that some task or chore is woman’s work. Growing up I wanted to go hang out with a friend of mine but his dad said no they had to do the laundry to which I replied but that’s woman’s work. Well guess who did that woman’s work for the next 10 years of his life. A few years later I made a similar statement about doing the dishes and once again I found myself acquiring a new woman’s chore. You see there are certain ways in which people say things to indicate that they are speaking from experience. If you look at basically the entire book of 1 John but look at 4:20. John writes of love with a strange degree of familiarity.
1Jn 4:20 If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. 1Jn 4:21 And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.
John and his brother James are given the name Boanerges, the Sons of thunder. These guys were passionate, and vindictive, and maybe even obsessed with their own fame and glory. They wanted to cast down fire from heaven to destroy a village that did not welcome Jesus because Jesus was a Jew and they were Samaritans. They were ready to kill an entire village simply because they did not want Jesus coming to their town. Later John saw an exorcist casting out demons in Jesus name, and demanded that he cease for he was not a disciple. Throughout Jesus ministry we see John is passionate and proud. But I want you to picture him differently.
Just picture John as he is writing this epistle, here is the last living apostle of Christ, one of those who was closest to Jesus while he was on earth. He is this old man, at the end of his life, after watching all of his friends be killed for their faith, and being exiled for his own, and the only thing that he has to say, his passion is to preach love.
Do you see the power of love just in what he is writing? John has been transformed, from an intemperate youth, seeking glory, power, honor, and fame, but now all he seeks is to share that which has overcome him. The love of God has filled him so much that it leaks out of his writings. Love one another, love each other, love God, love, love, love. The same man who wanted to call down fire from heaven and wants to sit at Jesus right hand records a gospel where he does not even mention himself by name. John no longer cares if you know him, he is no longer concerned with his name. He wants to be known by the one thing that is most important to him: the fact that Jesus loved him. John recognized that he was not special because he was a great speaker, or because he was a disciple, but because Christ loved him and because Jesus loved him John teaches us to love each other with the love of Jesus.