Being a christian is not just about being saved. In fact, it not even primarily about "being saved".
It’s about joining Jesus in his mission, learning to love others and show God’s love to the world. Without this focus, love means nothing.
First, we need to define what this Jesus love looks like. We can say “agape” and “philia” all day
(two of the Greek words used in the Bible for "love") but how does the rubber hit the road?
Paul put it kinda like this in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7:
"Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance."
You can say “I love my Xbox.” Your love does not affect it, and it does not love you. (Seriously. It doesn't love you.)
You can say “I love my 49ers.” Your love does not really affect them. Your money does, but aside
from your money, they don’t really love you. (If they loved you, the tickets would be a lot cheaper!)
You can say “I love my girlfriend or boyfriend.” Unless your love is other-oriented (not self-oriented) and you truly have your girlfriend’s or boyfriend’s very best interests in your heart, its not really love but a self-centered and self-motivated affection based on “what can I get from the relationship.”
Loving like Jesus is all about passing His love along to others, not keeping it for yourself.
Jesus died for you - he gave everything He was capable of giving including his own divine life - so He must think you’re important and worth dying for! Since he died for others too - gave everything He was capable of giving for them, up to and including his own life - He must think THEY are awfully important and worth loving too .
So, seeing as how Jesus loves everyone, how will anyone know that Jesus thinks they are worth loving unless someone shows them by loving them like Jesus?
Face it: if you are a Christian it is because someone showed you some love: some compassion,
some understanding, or some patience. Someone walked with you, showed kindness, gained your
trust, and shared the Good News with you.
Had they been mean, judgmental, rude, unkind or cruel, you would not have listened to the Good News. But someone gained some level of your trust, and you listened to them because you sensed they meant you well.
Even if you are not a Christian, wouldn’t you like it if someone treated you this way anyway?
With kindness, patience, understanding, and compassion?
Love is the currency of the Kingdom, guys, and its the only way the Good News is shared.
Therefore, Paul puts it this way in 1 Corinthians 10:33:
“I, too, try to please everyone in everything I do. I don’t just do what is best for me; I do what is best for others so that many may be saved.”
See, this is how Jesus rolled. Jesus was the ultimate big-shot. I mean, He’s God. All cosmic power. The ultimate player, in everything. He could be better than anyone at anything He wanted to do. He was far more interesting than the Most Interesting Man In The World.
I mean, he healed people of their sickness with just a touch or a word.
He spoke and the very elements of the earth obeyed him.
He raised people from the dead.
He turned water into wine, guys. Water into wine!
(If the Most Interesting Man In The World rolled with Jesus, he’d be drinking the good stuff that
Jesus made when he turned water into wine. Because Jesus is that cool.)
Jesus was the ultimate everything. He had all cosmic power, and he wasn’t even stuck in an “itty-bitty-living space.”
Think of the power that the comic book writers give to superheroes. Crazy stuff. The Avengers: Iron Man, Thor, the freakin’ Hulk! Think about Superman! (Yeah, I know he’s DC comics and not Marvel and not an Avenger, but he’s still pretty awesome!) These guys battle baddies that destroy entire planets! They have the power of the gods! But remember, these are fictional characters that live only in our imaginations. If they were real, even they would pale next to the living reality of what true power is.
That was Jesus.
And yet - the man who had the actual capability of being the baddest man the universe has ever
known, the man who could literally squash his enemies with a thought, the man who, because He is God had the power to destroy everything that opposed him, the man that John 1 says is the actual creator of all that is, had this attitude about how to use this power:
In Luke 6:27-36, Jesus says:
“But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies!”
(Seriously? Love my enemies?)
Yeah, that’s what the Baddest Man in the Universe says.
(Even the guy that steals my lunch money?)
Yeah, even him.
(Even the girl that calls me the b-word and calls me out at lunch every day?)
Yeah, even her.
And the rabbit hole goes even deeper than that.
“Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you.”
(Bless and do good? To people who hate me? Really? Seriously?)
“Pray for those who hurt you.”
(You’ve got to be kidding me. This is getting stupid. Why would I do that? )
“If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also. Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back. Do to others as you would like them to do to you.”
(Is he serious about this stuff? You’ve got to be kidding me.)
This Jesus love is not easy, but this how Jesus rolls. He wants us to roll with him.
Think about this next section:
“If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinners love those who love them! And if you do good only to those who do good to you, why should you get credit? Even sinners do that much! And if you lend money only to those who can repay you, why should you get credit? Even sinners will lend to other sinners for a full return.”
You guys know this makes sense.
It's easy to love people who are easy to love. It's easy to love people who are good to you. That's the simple stuff. That’s child’s play, literally. Playground stuff.
Jesus is asking you to step up to the plate in the big leagues.
Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid.
(Why on earth would I want to love like that? What’s in it for me?)
Jesus knew you’d ask that. The answer is, actually, a lot!
“Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.”
That’s right, you get a reward for doing love Jesus’ style, loving the unthankful and the wicked as well.
Loving like Jesus means putting others first, just like Jesus does. It means not counting on what you think is important, but what Jesus thinks is important. And he will reward you for loving what He loves!
Learn and understand this: Jesus thinks you are important!! That’s why he died for you! He loves you and desires to save you! You have the ultimate Superhero on your side. This is why you not only should love like Jesus, but you can actually do it, because Jesus has your back for eternity!
In Romans 8, Paul says stuff like,
“If God is for us, who can ever be against us?”
“Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. “
“Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?”
(Does that sound like some days you have in your High School?)
And this next section just rocks!
“I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons (nor jocks, or punks, or angry brothers, or nasty neighbors or mean teachers, or bullies or jerks), neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow (Come on now, you know you worry about school and what’s going on tomorrow all the time) —not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
That’s a pretty complete statement, ya think? Nothing in all creation will separate us from God’s love.
So, since the Ultimate Superhero has your back in all things, and has done all this for you, he asks you to do something for Him.
He wants you to think the same away about others that He does, and this is the entire Christian attitude in a nutshell: He wants you to think others are important and love them, because Jesus thinks they are important and loves them. Just like He loves you.
Guys, its kinda like being nice to your girlfriend’s friends because, well, she likes them and thinks they are important. Its makes your girlfriend happy because they are important to her and she wants them to be important to you, too.
Girls, its kinda like taking an interest in the sports that your boyfriend likes because, well, he likes them and they are important to him. It makes him happy that you are willing to try to endure them and take at least some interest, because he’d like the things that important to him to be important for you, too.
Jesus wants the things that are important to Him to be important to us, too.
But The True Superhero didn’t lord his power over anyone, and he doesn’t force anyone to do anything.
Instead, he rolled like this:
Phillipians 2 says, “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being.”
Jesus had the power, but didn’t think this power was to be used in any way other than to sacrifice for others so that they can know His Father’s love.
Is the trash can in the kitchen full? Take it out, because Jesus loves your parents and wants someone to bless them.
Does the old lady down the street need some help with her yard? Go help her out, because Jesus loves her and wants someone to bless her.
Does the kid with the buck teeth that everyone laughs at look like he’s hurting, and look very sad? He probably is. Go talk to him, and be a friend, because Jesus loves him and needs someone to show His love to that kid. Jesus needs someone to bless him.
Is everyone joining in at laughing at the unfortunate nerdy girl that just got embarrassed because she dropped all her books and lost a button off her blouse? Help her pick up her books, and perhaps offer her a sweater for the day, because Jesus loves her and needs someone to bless her.
Are you angry with the little kid who took the last shot of the game and missed, when you clearly had the better shot and know that you could have slammed it? Be patient, and show compassion. You know the kid feels terrible, because you would feel terrible if you’d taken the last shot and missed, too. You’d have given anything to make that shot, and so would he. Put aside your own pride, just as Jesus did, become a servant, make a sacrifice of your own desires, just like Jesus did, and go show some the kid some compassion. Because its just a game after all, and Jesus loves the kid too, and needs someone to bless him.
In whatever you do, no matter where you go, remember that Jesus loves you, and he loves “them”. He needs someone to bless them. At every opportunity, why can’t that blessing be from you?
That’s what it means to “love like Jesus”. It’s to set aside our pride, knowing that Jesus loves us with all of His being, set aside our selfishness, and love others because Jesus loves them, too.
Yeah, its a high standard, and a very high bar, indeed. It’s not easy. In fact, at first, it feels a lot like hard work and sacrifice. But like most things, the more you practice, the easier it gets. Pretty soon, the work doesn’t feel so much like a sacrifice, and you begin to find the joy in seeing people blessed because of you. You will be showing people the Good News without even realizing it, because through your love they will see Jesus.
That of course, is part of the reward that God promises if we play the game by His rules, and run with His program. The joy of showing His love to the world is a reward all its own.
He is God after all, and he knows what He’s doing. Trust him, and let your life show His love, and you will see a reward in this life and the next of the likes that is impossible without God.
You can do this. With God, of course, all things are possible.
Learn how Jesus loves, and go love like Him.