08 July 2009

Love as Christ Loves - Part 1

Last night, we had our Men's Bible Study group.  It was a great time.  We discussed the three commandments that Jesus left his followers:

  1. '[Love] the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength'.

  2. 'Love your neighbor as yourself'.

  3. 'Love each other.  Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.'


I think that all three of these are best understood with the caveat Jesus placed on the last one, 'just as I have loved you...' we should love God and neighbor and each other.  So the question that comes to the for is, 'How does Christ love us?'  Completely.  Selflessly.  Sacrificially.  How does that play out -- what does it look like -- in the three commands above?  Further, is loving 'as Christ loves' a 'key' to becoming truly human?  Does it matter what the opposition is?  Does it matter how others make us feel?  Are these things barriers representative of our falseness; our sin?

'It's hard to do'.

True.  But does that matter?  Do we love as Christ loves?  To quote a songwriter/poet/prophet, 'It's not about who you love.  It's all about do you love?'  And for the followers of Christ, it's all about do we love as Christ loves?

Again, the first commandment is, 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength'.  What does this look like?  What does it mean to love God sacrificially?  Does it relate to vocation?  Maybe.  But that seems best identified in the later commands.  It seems to me to refer to the putting away of our plans or dreams for the plan or dream of God.

Perhaps not.  Perhaps it deeper still.  This has to do with ones relationship with God.  However, Jesus did say, 'If you love me, you will keep my commands...'  So maybe loving God is, at least in part, about action.  Does this mean going to church, giving, singing in the choir, helping with the landscaping, missions, etc.?  I think it may start there.  But it should move out from there.  Contrary to what we may believe, sacred places are not limited to 'church'.  All of life is sacred.  All of life is holy.  'Church' is to be a miniature -- a rehearsal -- for how all of life is to be lived.

So, again, how do we love God sacrifically?  If we look at the command, Jesus tells us to love God with everything that we are -- heart, soul, mind, and strength -- our total person.  While loving God may seem abstract for some, how do we love our spouces or partners that way?  For me, it's about giving myself away for the needs of my family.  Do I always succeed at this?  Of course not.  But that is my intention.  I think the same would apply with our relationship with God.  Our intention must be to give ourselves completely for the things of God.  That may require less sleep.  That may require less food.  That may require less 'stuff'.  In fact, I would say that those are probably all a given.  It is about communication with God -- of listening for God within all of life.  Of realizing that our way of seeing, doing, being is upside down.  Jesus said that if we want to keep our lives we must lose them.  I don't think he was specifically talking about being killed for our faith (though that has something to do with it in the context).  I think it's more about seeing our lives are backwards; upside down.  The key to becoming more human, more like Christ is to give our lives away for the things of God.  It means opening our lives -- every aspect of our lives -- to whatever God wants from us.  We have to be willing to do that.  That is the cost of following Christ; of having a relationship with God.  Think about God's relationship with Abraham.  God told him to leave everything he knew and go to some place God would show him later.  Just leave and go.  Period.  We have to be that willing.  Our intentions have to be just like that.  I think that is what loving God sacrificially looks like.  It means laying aside something near and dear to us for the sake of being and doing what God wants us to be and do.

Next time we will look at the second command.

~~~
In the Grace of the Three in One,


OD