Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

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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?

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Pandemic Perspective – Part 110 Living Love

1 John 3:16-18

16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

We all know what John 3:16 says about love, but do we know what 1 John 3:16 says? When it comes to Love we must 

  • Know Love

Mankind in an attempt to define love has filled volumes and volumes of books and over the centuries love has been the major theme of our music.  When you think about all the classic plays, novels and movies, many have been based on the theme of love and yet if you ask ten people to define love, you get ten different definitions.  John in contrast says “We know love by this…” he gives us the briefest yet deepest definition of love when he says we cannot know love apart from God. He reminds us that God is love, and if we don’t know Him then we don’t know love. Knowing love is knowing God and we can only know love if we believe that Jesus laid down His life for us. The eternal Creator of all things the one who gave life also gave up His life. This is God’s love in action and this is the love our world needs to know not the staged Hollywood love that is here today and gone tomorrow but a sacrificial serving love. It was love that caused Jesus to leave Heaven for earth and become our Savior!  Real love is rare in this world, we worry about running out of oil but the truth is we don’t run on oil, our vehicles do, we, on the other hand, run on love. Love is our greatest resource and yet it seems to runs in short supply while hate dominates our world. So where in the world can we find a good model to follow? Is there such a workable model? How can we come to know what true love is? The best thing we can do is to look at love that came to us, an out of this world love that can into our world. John reminds us that it is Jesus who shows us and teaches us what real love is.

  • Share Love

John tells us that we first need to know what love is but that is not where love stops but where it starts. We must share what we know for love is not a knowledge based understanding of Jesus it is knowledge based sharing of Jesus. Even a shallow understanding of God’s love which was demonstrated on Calvary’s cross should inspire us to give of ourselves completely to others. Love here is defined by what we do because what you do defines you. It is not what you feel, what you think, your good intentions, or even your ideals that count, it is what you do. It is the outcome of your life that speaks about who you are. What Jesus did was He came to us, he could’ve stayed in heaven, He could’ve just press control alt delete and rebooted His whole creation, He could’ve just traded us in for some new and improved model. Instead He chose to come personally and live as a human being, to suffer the effects of hatred, to be nailed to a rough wooden cross. What did He do? He identified with our hurts, our pain, our suffering, love is so intensely action based that it hurts with others. Love compels us to act, to do, to demonstrate, to show, to give of oneself. Love is not measured with unseen heartbeats or great intentions, Jesus says He loves but He did not just say it, He showed it! Jesus put His love on display for the whole world when He laid down His life for us. How are you showing your love? John asks the question “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?”  He says that we should lay down our lives for others and if you are willing to die for others then why would we hold back when it comes to material possession? Being willing to give it all is more than just money or material possessions, the  Good Samaritan was willing not only to sacrifice his time, but all his resources. It is the need of others that should provoke the love of God in us. 

  • Live Love 

So we know it and we show it but John said that it should become a life style that we must live love. When Christ laid down his life for us, He chose to forgive, to love with action by coming to die in our place. Love has as its goal looking after another’s welfare, doing something tangible in action not just words. Love is more than just talking it is walking, it is more than just singing but also bringing. In the sacrifice of Christ love made itself known in every breath and every drop of blood. Jesus gained nothing by laying down his life for us and true love needs no reward. His love was not poured out because we earned it or over some self-merit but undeserved. We are not called to talk about love but to take love to others. Loving others requires that we grow up because it takes maturity to live with the tension of what people can be and what they are. Love is what you do because of what He has done.