Summary: Love encompasses both loving and being loved. Many struggle with loving, but we often struggle even more with being loved. Based on John 13:1-9 and Peter’s struggles in allowing Jesus to love him.
The Flip-Side of Loving
Wildwind Community Church
August 20, 2006
Do you have a hard time identifying whether or not you are growing closer to God? I mean, that’s a hard thing to see in yourself, isn’t it? Don’t you wish there were a way of being able to tell beyond doubt whether you are growing closer to God? Well it just so happens there is. You can know this morning if you are growing closer to God. See, Jesus gave us a litmus test, a way of knowing.
John 13:34-35 (NIV)
34 "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."
By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. Do you want to know if you’re getting closer to God? All you have to do is answer this question: Are you gradually getting better at loving and being loved? Now of course people without Christ in their lives at all can work on exercises that will help them get better at loving and being loved. Jesus isn’t saying that love makes you his disciple, he’s saying you can’t be his disciple without love. In other words, if you claim to be a Christ-follower, the evidence of your followership will be that you are gradually getting better at loving and being loved.
I’m convinced that there are really two huge problems in this area of love. First is that you and I do not love enough. We do not love deeply enough, consistently enough, faithfully enough, and tenaciously enough. Second is that we do not allow ourselves to be loved. This second problem is perhaps greater than the first. 99% of all the sermons you hear in church about love are about how we have to learn to be more loving. What about learning to allow others to love us? We’re worse at allowing others to love us than we are at loving others, and it’s at least partly because it’s a completely neglected topic. But look at this with me.
John 13:1-9 (NIV)
1 It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.
2 The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus.
3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God;
4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist.
5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, "Lord, are you going to wash my feet?"
7 Jesus replied, "You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand."
8 "No," said Peter, "you shall never wash my feet." Jesus answered, "Unless I wash you, you have no part with me."
9 "Then, Lord," Simon Peter replied, "not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!"