Summary: This sermon is revised in light of the recent events in Iraq.

John 13:31-35

“What’s Love Got To Do With It?”

Over this past week we have seen photographs on the front pages of our newspapers and on our television screens of the type—well, that I have never seen before.

But then, now that I think of it. I have seen pictures from the concentration camps—during World War II…

…but for someone my age—that’s ancient history…

…I wasn’t even thinking about being born yet.

We’ve learned from that. We aren’t like that anymore.

And of course, the Americans weren’t the ones performing the evil, brutal acts against their fellow human beings…it was those darn Germans!!!

So, this hits much closer to home.

An article on the front page of

Yesterday’s paper particularly caught my eye.

According to the story, “People who study the origins of group violence say the image of two American soldiers smiling proudly over naked Iraqi soldiers represents the worst side of human nature.

‘But it is human nature,’” says one of the experts cited in the article.

And I would have to agree. It is human nature…at it’s worst.

One quote from the article was especially disturbing:

“I would put it more in terms of opportunity,” a sociologist and prison researcher says.

“Really what you have to explain is not so much the aberrant psychology…but the fact that they had the opportunity to act on these impulses.”

Does this mean that any of us…given the right circumstances are just as likely to act the way the American soldiers at this Iraqi prison did?

I’m afraid so…

…except for one factor…

…one factor that gives us the strength, the insight, the compassion, and the power not to succumb to the mob mentality…

…and that one factor is Jesus Christ living inside of us as Lord and Savior!!!

I remember, after having been recently converted, I was out with some old friends at some of the old haunts.

It was late at night and I was with a group of young white males, when along come two young black males.

This group that I was with began to taunt these two black males with racial slurs and threats of violence.

This is when I most understood that the Holy Spirit now living inside me made it impossible for me to be a part of this group of people any longer---at least I could not go out with them at night and be part of them.

Not that this group had ever appeared to be the least bit racist in the past…there aren’t even hardly any black people in Syracuse, New York…

…but this group had been hateful and mean to many other people in the past.

I asked a friend of mine to drive me home.

He was having too much fun, so I had to stay.

I was able to walk over to the two young men.

I smiled at them.

They weren’t so sure what to make of me. I’m sure they thought I was making fun of them at first.

Then I told them not to pay any attention to the other guys.

I told them I was sorry they were having to deal with this.

And you know what one of them said to me?

He said, “You’re different. You’re not like them. You don’t belong with them.”

“God bless you,” I said and then I thought about what they had said.

This really was the beginning of a new chapter in my life. A real moment of enlightenment.

No, I wasn’t like them.

I didn’t belong with them…

…but I used to be like them.

The only thing that made me different, the only thing that made my attitude different—was that Jesus Christ had become Lord of my life—I had been born again!

I have the same human nature.

The late Harry Denman was once asked by a young person, “What is the new birth?”

Denman replied: “When you are born a person you have a physical birth and you love as a person loves which can be very, very selfish at times.

When you are born of the Lord you have a spiritual birth and you love as God loves.

That is what we call redemptive love.

That is what Jesus did, He lived a redemptive life.

He gave Himself.”

“As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”—Jesus tells us in our Scripture Lesson for this morning.

Perhaps more than any other single verse in the New Testament, this one should cause us to get up out of our pews, run out of the church doors, and never come back!

Just before He died and just after He washed feet, Jesus gave a “new command” to a community in crisis.

“Love one another,” He said.

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.

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