John 13:34-35 (MSG)
Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.
My husband and I will soon celebrate sixteen years of wedded bliss. I can honestly say that after all these years I am still in love with my husband. I would venture to say even more today than all those years ago in a tiny church with a handful of people when we said, “I do!” There have been many peaks and valleys like most marriages, some really high highs and some very low, lows. Through it all our love for one another endured. I have been challenged by our recent study of love at church to evaluate how I love the people in my life. Love is exemplified in our life by commitment. It is the true test of our love for one another. The love of a married duo must go past the honeymoon/newlywed phase of life and make it through the “why-can’t-you-pick-up-your-dirty-clothes” and “you-don’t-squeeze-the-toothpaste-right” aggravations of life. We made it past all that right into the “gained-a-few-pounds”, “is-that-a-gray-hair” and “oh-my-goodness-the-wrinkles” life changes. But that’s not all, they must cling to one another through the tests of time. Love must prevail and always endure for it to be successful.
Jesus said, “Love one another.” He went on to explain “in the same way I loved you, love one another.” Here is where it gets tricky especially in a world where love has grown so cold and full of contempt. Marriage and divorce have become common partners. No longer socially shunned as failure it simply a means to an end. We do the same in our relationships. In a “what-have-you-done-for-me-lately” world – we must find the capacity to love others unconditionally and outside of the norm. We must learn to love them like Jesus does. I tell young people all the time do not even consider getting married if you both don’t have a relationship with Jesus because it will never succeed. Even in the most sacred of relationships called marriage – every ounce of our being is to love each other not just in good times but bad ones, too. Not just when we look good, feel good and all is well but walking through hell together if we have to. Until humanity reaches total perfection, we need Jesus to get us through each moment of each day all by ourselves so it is evident that we will need Him even more when we try to mold two personalities into one for life.
“This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples – when they see the love you have for each other.” Love covers a multitude of sins. (I Peter 4:8) We must learn to live in love with the whole world including everyone in it. In my marriage, there are times when my husband and I may not agree or have a dispute. Everyone does but not everyone who does successfully stays married. During those times when I am mad, hurt or frustrated, I have to look at my husband through the love I have for him and the commitment I made to him in Jesus Christ. It wasn’t easy at first. There are still times that I am challenged by this but I know that our marriage has been successfully based on the fact that have maintained my commitment to Christ and looked at my husband in the love that has been shown me.
John 3:16-18 (MSG)
This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.
God loved the world and everyone in it so much that He gave His Son. His Only Son was given up as an offering so that you and I could make it through this world and step into Eternity forever. Not only that, when we accept His Son as our Savior and Lord, the Kingdom of God becomes commonplace in our life…if we live in love with Jesus. It is a partnership based on commitment to one another. We cannot claim to love Jesus and live any way we want though many do in the name of grace. Jesus didn’t come to the world to condemn it. It was doomed the moment sin entered in. Jesus came to save us from it.
The Grace of God took a new turn for me the other day. I was in church entering worship when we began to sing about Jesus conquering the grave. I saw my son in my mind. He fought cancer for three full years of his life with four relapses in that time. God healed and delivered our son of the dreadful disease. He is healed. However, in that moment, I was aware that if he had not been healed what a blessing it is that Jesus conquered the grave so that he would not have to suffer forever in his sickness. This is the kind of grace we are given every day. We have all sinned and fallen short of God’s Glory. (Romans 3:23) The wages of sin are death. (Romans 6:23) But while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8) This is love covering our sin. Jesus didn’t come to condemn us but to save us. We now have the opportunity to experience life now and forever no longer subject to death and suffering as before.
The only requirement listed in this passage is to believe. To believe that Jesus died for you and only you. To believe that God’s Love is for you. To believe that nothing can take it from you. All of this so we can live in love with Jesus fully confident that we will be with Him forever. Christ becomes our life partner now we live in love. If we trust the Lord, all is well. It is to those who do not call on His Name or call out to Him but do not trust Him that there is a problem.
John 3:19-21 (MSG)
This is the crisis we’re in: God-light streamed into the world, but men and women everywhere ran for the darkness. They went for the darkness because they were not really interested in pleasing God. Everyone who makes a practice of doing evil, addicted to denial and illusion, hates God-light and won’t come near it, fearing a painful exposure. But anyone working and living in truth and reality welcomes God-light so the work can be seen for the God-work it is.
The church and its people are in crisis today. Many are oblivious to it. We have forgotten what this is all about and made it what we want it to be. There is comfort in our community of congregant believers who think they love God but have missed it altogether. The Light of God’s Love came streaming into the world ready to shine for us all but many love the darkness more than the light. They do not love God or desire Him in the relationship just the great things that He does. Not only that they do not live in love with others as we have been called to do. The Love we are to give to others has a Source – His Name is Jesus. As we draw from His Love, we can pour it on others freely without expectation. Too bad people are addicted to denial that God’s Love really is for everyone so they save it all for the “good” people. We are living an illusion that there are only some who are worthy of His Love and sin has a hierarchy or sliding scale with some that are admissible and others that are not. Sin is a flagrant foul to God. He does not tolerate those who love their sin more than their Savior. Those who make no attempt to walk in the Light of His Love have a big problem. But are those so-called Christians really shedding any Light on the subject by talking about these people, pointing fingers and shunning them. Probably not, huh? I am examining my heart today for love. I am trying to see others in the Love of God and it’s hard sometimes. Human nature says that surely God loves those who try more than those who do not. But that’s not true. God’s love looks for Jesus. He can only tolerate us when He looks at us through His Son’s Blood, otherwise we are nothing.
Ephesians 5:1-2 (MSG)
Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.
I have a confession to make. Growing up, I was a complete and utter slob. I am reaping what I have sown in most of my children. When I began having my children, I decided that I must create a home for them so I began putting things in order. Now my husband is very much a clean freak who loves order more so than I do most of the time. It is evident in our closet as his side is clean and orderly and mine is just enough to get by. When we got married and lived together, I could see the things that made him happy that were not necessarily as important to me but I did them to please him. My husband did not order me to do certain things or demand change but I wanted to do it. As I got to know him more and more, I could anticipate the areas that I could bless him in. He did the same for me. We do not always do the things we do because they are for us but for each other.
What if we approached our relationship with Jesus as we do friendships, partnerships and marriage with mutual respect and a desire to please each other by making a commitment? What if we stopped trying to fix everyone and asked the Lord to fix us first? What if rather than looking for love – we tried to live in love with Jesus Christ? Watching how God loves us, then doing it – we would change the world. We cry out for revival but that requires change. If we don’t change why would the world want what we have? Christ does not condemn but Christians often do. Jesus is loving, patient and kind but we aren’t. God’s Love for us is extravagant but we greedily keep it for ourselves limiting our life completely. We must love like Jesus did which mean stop tearing others apart and find the common bond. We are all sinners ready to be set free. Love will get this point across and call many from the darkness. It begins in each individual. It is a personal choice. It has the power to set the world on fire when learn to live in love.
I John 3:21-24 (MSG)
And friends, once that’s taken care of and we’re no longer accusing or condemning ourselves, we’re bold and free before God! We’re able to stretch our hands out and receive what we asked for because we’re doing what he said, doing what pleases him. Again, this is God’s command: to believe in his personally named Son, Jesus Christ. He told us to love each other, in line with the original command. As we keep his commands, we live deeply and surely in him, and he lives in us. And this is how we experience his deep and abiding presence in us: by the Spirit he gave us.