Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

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Pandemic Perspective – Part 112 The Proof of Love Part 2

John 13:33-35

33 Dear children, I will be with you only a little longer….34 So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. 35 Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.

Jesus Not only gave us a new and necessary command when He said “Love each other” but He revealed Love’s:

  • Source 

He didn’t just say “Love each other” He also said “just as I have loved you.” Jesus is the source of our love and it is on the basis of His love for us that we are enabled and empowered to love one another. If we want to minister in love we must first be mastered by Love.  All too often we fail in our efforts to love others because we have strayed from the foundation of love. We try to love others in our own strength with our own love and so we fail. The truth is that before we can overcome in love we must be overcome by Love. We must know the Father’s love and be convinced of His love for us. Do you see yourselves as accepted and loved by God just the way you are? Have you accepted His love and allow it to wash over you’re your life in such a way that you are completely baptized by His love operating under the principle of “As I have loved you?” When we acknowledge and surrender to Christ as our source of love then we will be able to carry out His command of love. Is it time for you to take a swim in the source of love before you sink?

  • Measure 

Jesus reveals the measure and the extent to which this love is to be manifest, “As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” The way we are to love one another is to the same degree that Christ loved us and to what extent did Jesus demonstrate His love? As the evening meal was being served, Jesus silently rose from the table and assumed the role of a servant. Jesus poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, demonstrating His love through acts of servant hood. Yet His ultimate display of love was as a sacrifice for our sins on the cross. The measure to which we are to love each other is in the same measure to which Jesus has loved us. We must love in service and sacrifice, “As I have loved you.” Serving others in love is practical not sentimental, we are not called to talk out love but to walk out love. Love is action in motion where we lose ourselves in the service of others. That requires stepping out of our comfort zones and becoming vulnerable. The sacrifice of love means that it’s going to cost us something to love others, time, money, comfort, reputation, hurt. Yes love hurts because when we love we open ourselves up to rejection, misunderstanding, even abuse and our love is often not appreciated or reciprocated. That is why our love must be His love and we cannot love others without first offering ourselves to the one we love. The cross reveals an unmistakable portrait of His love, unconditional, limitless, and sacrificial. But the greatest sacrifice of love is the sacrifice to self, a love that the world and the flesh cannot comprehend. Our western culture with its postmodern mentality stands in opposition to and has perverted the message of self-sacrificing love. Today we are obsessed with self, our message is gratify your own desires, follow your own heart. Yet the message of the cross is serve and sacrifice, love as I have loved you. Which message are you listening to and what love is influencing your life, self or the Savior?

  • Results

Jesus concludes by reminding us of the result of His love lived through us “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples”. The result of Christians loving one another is that the Church becomes the greatest witness to the world, without ever saying a word. The reality is that the world is watching and we are on trial. People are looking to see if Christianity is for real and the evidence they are weighing in the balances is our lives, our conduct more that our words. Do your actions portray to the world how deeply you truly love? What in your life would cause them to say, “See how they love one another!?” “See how ready they are willing to die for one another!” We are called to not only receive His love but to respond and reflect His love with those that God places in our lives. Who will you share His love with today?

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Pandemic Perspective – Part 111 The Proof of Love Part 1

John 13:34-35

33 Dear children, I will be with you only a little longer….34 So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. 35 Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.

We often forget the situation surrounding the words “Love each other” spoken by Jesus and the significance of what was going on when He uttered them. These words were spoken on the night that Jesus was betrayed when He knew that the time of His death was drawing near. If you knew that your time was drawing short what would you say, what would be important to you? Every word that Jesus uttered that night was weighty and important filled with purpose and direction. Jesus revealed that these words were not just a command but:

  • A New Command

Although Jesus had taught the Twelve much on the subject of love, He had never specifically commanded them to love one another prior to this occasion. He had shared with them the importance of loving God, their neighbors and even instructed them to love their enemies. You could argue that by implication the command to love their neighbors also included one another. Yet Jesus didn’t imply He gave the explicit command to love one another for the first time here at the end of His life. Why did He have to command them and us to love each other, why wouldn’t an implication suffice? When Jesus gave His disciples this new command He recognized and revealed an innate flaw that resides within the lives of all of His followers, including us.  That without specifically commanding His disciples to love one another, there existed the very real possibility that this essential, nurturing activity would be neglected. There is something about us that makes us much more apt to deal with love as a noun or an abstract concept rather than as a verb. We seem to prefer talking about love rather than demonstrating it. Many of us can name and even give a brief definition for each of the three primary Greek words that are translated as the English word love. Others can quote the book and chapter in the Bible that contains Paul’s description of love. This kind of knowledge is useful and has its place but the problem is that we do not comprehend what love does by what it is; rather we recognize what love is by what it does. 

Love in our culture is usually described and thought of as a feeling yet Jesus reminds us that in reality it is a choice integrated with action. Jesus first washed the disciples’ feet and then He gave them a new command “Love each other, just as I have loved you.”  Before Jesus commanded the disciples to love one another He first expressed love to them as a servant, one who would be willing to see themselves as less than others. Active love is a choice interwoven with humility that causes us to kneel to the needs of others before our own. Love is getting down to the foot level in others’ lives and serving them. Our love should always involve choice and action so it can mirror God’s love. How well do you display your love for God in the choices you make and the actions you take? Jesus says we are to love one another, as He loved us, who did he love? Everyone! Who should we love? Everyone!  To know about love in our heads takes only understanding, but to know love in our hearts requires practice. So are you going to talk about His command to love one another or are you going to practice it?

  • A Necessary Command

The occasion for this gathering between Jesus and His disciples was to celebrate the Passover when God delivered His people.  This was the night that Christ was betrayed and Luke’s Gospel reminds us that when Jesus needed His friends the most He couldn’t count on their comfort. Why, because that night they were too concerned about themselves. They were wrapped up in arguing over who would be the greatest in Christ’s kingdom and there was not much love being demonstrated toward one another (Luke 22:23-24). 

They may have spent the last three and a half years together in close contact with Christ and one another even become a family but they still needed to be commanded to love each other. Like the disciples we also have a tendency to focus our attention on matters that cause division and disputes. If we are honest some of the hardest people to love are other Christians and unlike love it takes no effort at all to find fault in them. Love on the other hand is achieved through effort, its messy and costly; it requires sacrifice and can leave us defenseless. Although loving one another is not the easy thing to do, it is the necessary thing to do because Christ’s kingdom is a kingdom of love. We are commanded to love one another because it is fundamental to our relationship to God. Trying to serve God without love is like trying to drive a car without wheels. Love is where the rubber meets the road and loving one another must be the earmark of our lives as we serve in the kingdom of God. “Love one another” is a necessary command because love must be seen and experienced. But Jesus did not simply say, “Love one another.”  Jesus was very specific about the kind of love his disciples were to share, He said “Just as I have loved you.”  What if we as Christians would love each other the way Jesus showed his love, what if we would obey Him and just love each other. What if His unmistakable love was revealed to a watching world, a love that they desperately need and cannot comprehend? How will you respond to His new and necessary command to love today?