Love, Love, Love

There are some interesting words in the story of Jesus and His last night on earth with His disciples before He is crucified.  We find part of it in John 13 where Jesus shares the Passover Feast with them and before they eat their meal He washes their feet.  I’ll be honest with you, the words that I’m thinking about, I don’t really think we pay any attention to them at all.  I want you to understand that I’m talking about most all of us.  Most all of us who call ourselves Christians.  Most all of us who go to church most weeks.  Most all of us who read the Bible, who pray, who believe what Jesus came for and what He says. 

Those are pretty harsh words, but the more that I think about it the more I think I believe it.

The words are found in John 13:34-35.  Instead of you looking them up I’m just going to put them here, but you might want to look it up, just in case you think that I might be trying to slip something past you.  Here they are:  “A new command I give you:  Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Here’s the thing:  I think that most of us think we’re doing that.  I think that most of us who call ourselves Christians; who go to church most weeks; who read the Bible and pray and believe what Jesus came for and what He says . . . most of us think we’re doing that.  But I don’t think most of us are.  I think that most of us pick and choose the who, what, when, where and why. 

Who – I believe that Jesus is talking to us, the people who fit into those categories that I’ve been throwing around here; so basically, if you’re reading this, you probably fit into that category.  Jesus said, “A new command I give you:  Love one another.”  So you, well, that’s you . . . and one another, well, that’s everyone that also fits into these categories (we who call ourselves Christians; who go to church most weeks; who read the Bible and pray and believe what Jesus came for and what He says . . .)  I want to challenge you to look around you the next time you’re “at church!”  That command that Jesus gives us here will include just about everyone.  We can get technical if we want to and “judge one another” but then that gives us some more problems with another of Jesus’ commands.  So, just to be safe, could we just agree that this includes almost everyone “at church?”  We aren’t given the option to sift or sort or pick and choose.  But that’s what most of us tend to do . . . sift, sort, pick and choose. 

What – Jesus said, “A new command I give you:  Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”  If we aren’t going to sift, sort, pick and choose then I think it’s pretty clear that Jesus wants us to love one another just like He did!  By the way, that word “love” is the word agape and it is love without condition.  God loved (agape) the world that way.  NO ONE WAS LEFT OUT!  NO ONE GETS SIFTED, SORTED, PICKED AT OR CHOOSEN OUT!  It’s the same word.  It’s a command.

When & Where – I think we have to get this by inference, but I think it’s pretty clear that it is always and everywhere, no conditions.

Why – This is the interesting part – “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”  If I’m reading that correctly then I think it’s pretty clear that when we do this the world, the whole world, all men, women, teens, children, senior adults, mid-life adults and young adults, the whole world will know that we are his disciples.  I think that’s a pretty good why.  In fact, I think that is vital.  So I’m going to ask you to stop and think about this for a minute and let me tell you why I think that most of us don’t do that even though it is a command from Jesus.

I think we put people in categories.  I think first of all we aren’t very quick to love, to agape anyone except for those we are closest to.  We reserve the right to “love people but we don’t have to like them.”  That’s just rubbish.  We are good at “loving people” in our own way.  But you see, the thing is, I don’t see that option here.  I don’t see Jesus saying, “love one another as I have loved you if they look like you, or if they fit into your comfort zone, or if they do things the way that you do them.

We have developed this elaborate system of “LOVE” in our world.  With apologies to James Dobson or whomever it was who came up with the concept of TOUGH LOVE, we define TOUGH LOVE as the kind of love that will teach people how to survive in this world.  You know what I mean?  We use words that Jesus didn’t use on the Cross when He was agaping us.  “Put on your big girl panties!”  “Quit your whining!”  “Suck it up!”  “Grow up!” 

You know what I’ve heard this week, from two different sources?  “The church is mean; the church chews people up and spits them out; the church isn’t very loving!”  And it comes from both sides.  It happens when “the church” treats us badly, and it happens with “the church” doesn’t act like I think they should act. 

I’m sorry if you think that I’m being harsh or cynical or unfair.  I’ve lost a lot of sleep the last few days listening to the church sift, sort, pick and choose to love like we want to love.  I just don’t think we have that option.  Sadly, I think most of us love like that and Jesus didn’t give us that option.


4 Responses to “Love, Love, Love”

  1. Dorrie Tyler says:

    Amen dear brother Rick! And thank you for not judging me and loving me!!! Gosh I miss hearing your sermons!! I am so glad of the miracle with Sue!!
    I just saw the movie “War Room” and it was about prayer and it really spoke to me about my prayer habits. So I am praying that God and his Holy Spirit will mold me and make me what God would have me to be. And to love others as He has loved me! Thank you!!

  2. Janet Todd says:

    I’ve been reading a book by Bob Goff, Everybody Always. It speaks of that very love you just described. It’s a great read and I am challenged.
    Thank you, Rick. I am glad you’re back. I’ve been missing your Wednesday blogs.

  3. Bob Appleby says:

    Jesus wept is the shortest verse in the Bible. But I believe that there were many times Jesus wept. One in particular is when he looked over Jerusalem and said he would love together the people, like a chicken gathers her young. The conclusion was that the people would not accept his message. The message of love seems to fall on deaf ears at times. But all we can do is deliver the message. Like a voice crying in the wilderness. God bless we love you.

  4. Edward Vinson says:

    Just re-read Mysteries Day 144 – Love the good and the bad and the unworthy. love those who hate you … not because of who they are but because of who you are.

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