I invite you to read Serena’s Summer Son-Shine post.
“As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” John 13:34 NIV
“What is one thing you would do if there were no obstacles?” I was asked.
And as the answer came into my heart, I tried to shut it down. It came anyway, in tears dropping silently on the computer keyboard.
If there were no obstacles, I would love as Jesus loves, every minute of every day, in all circumstances. I would do everything in love (1 Cor. 16:14).
I’d love when I’m tired, hurt, or misunderstood. I’d love when someone chose to think badly of me or make me look bad. I’d love when my love was ignored and unwanted. I’d love even if it killed me.
And now you see why I tried to shut the answer down: I don’t love as Jesus loves and never in this life will, because — in spite of knowing with all my heart how crucial and needed His love is — not only can I not do it, I’m afraid to.
Yet the command remains to love God with all my heart, mind, and soul and to love my neighbor as myself (Matt. 22:37-39).
“–By loving God and your neighbors,” Frederick Buechner writes in Whistling in the Dark, “Jesus doesn’t mean loving as primarily a feeling. Instead, He seems to mean that whether or not any feeling is involved, loving God means honoring and obeying and staying in constant touch with God, and loving your neighbors means acting in their best interests no matter what, even if personally you can’t stand them.”
We’re to love our spouses, children, mothers, fathers, extended family, and friends. We’re likewise to love:
*all our brothers and sisters in Christ (Matt. 25:40)
*the poor and the needy (1 Sam. 2:8)
*the unlovely (Jam. 2:2-4)
*those who are different from us (Matt. 5:47)
*those who use, hate, and persecute us (Matt. 5:44)
*those who in a million years may never love us back (Matt. 5:46)
We’re to act in their best interests, as Buechner says, and we’re to look to Jesus to learn how. The adaptation of John 13:34 in The Voice says this: “ So I give you a new command: Love each other deeply and fully. Remember the ways that I have loved you, and demonstrate your love for others in those same ways.”
This is Jesus’ love:
*He loved before we loved Him. (1 Jn. 4:19)
*He loved while we were still His enemies. (Rom. 5:10)
*He laid down His life for us. (1 Jn. 3:16)
*His love is everlasting. (Jer. 31:3)
*His love is patient and kind. (1 Cor. 13:4)
*His love is gracious, compassionate, and slow to anger. (Neh. 9:17)
*His love keeps no record of wrongs. (1 Cor. 13:5)
*His love perseveres. (1 Cor. 13:7)
*His love never fails. (1 Cor. 13:8)
*He hears us. (Ps. 119:149)
*He empathizes with us. (Heb. 4:15)
*He weeps for us. (Jn. 11:35)
*He prays for us. (Rom. 8:34)
*He leads us. (Ex. 15:13)
*He rescues and delivers us. (Ps. 6:4)
*He brings us victory. (Ps. 44:3)
*He may bring us grief, but shows compassion. (Lam. 3:32)
*He rebukes, chastens, and disciplines. (Heb. 12:6)
*He keeps us from destruction and puts all our sins behind our backs. (Isa. 38:17)
*He shares His glory with us. (Rom. 8:17)
*He calls us His friends. (Jn. 15:14)
How in all our weakness could we learn to love so well? We could not. But how could we receive such love only to keep it to ourselves? Perfectly emulating Jesus’ love may be impossible in our imperfect human skins, but we have His Word and Spirit within us to teach, direct, and remind us of Him. Jesus’ love, above all, is redemptive (Ps. 130:7), and this makes for a trustworthy guideline as we seek to do everything in love.
“As the Father has loved Me,” says Jesus, “so have I loved you. Now remain in My love. If you keep My commands, you will remain in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commands and remain in His love. I have told you this so that My joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are My friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from My Father I have made known to you. You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in My name the Father will give you. This is My command: Love each other” (Jn. 15:9-17).
Serena Crompton. Thirty-two years and more than half her life ago, Serena married Thomas Dale Crompton in front of his parents’ Christmas tree in Herrin, Illinois. A year later they celebrated their second Christmas and first anniversary with a gift they’ve never managed to top: their son and only child, Sayer Vincent. But the celebrating didn’t end there. Only eight short Septembers ago, God blessed them with a more delightful gift than they had any powers to imagine. Her name is Ceana Marie, and she is, of course, their grandchild.
Along the way, Serena has served as editor of two newspapers and has written seven textbooks and educational films. She is currently writing her first novel. Find Serena on her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/serenakaylencrompton and on Twitter: @serenakaylen