I have a bad habit of writing very long posts. I'm going to try to keep this one shorter.
I can imagine that many gentle readers have had their eyes glaze over, perhaps even begin to cross and twitch, as they read on and on and on, then embark on a frantic search for the back-button in an effort to escape my byzantine rantings with their sanity intact.
If anyone has actually reached the final sentence on one of my posts, I can only assume you are a mighty warrior of the blogdom, and I salute your stamina and intelligence.
That being said, on to today's thoughts.
Love the Lord with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. Love your neighbor as yourself. And to followers of Jesus, love one another as Jesus loved us, so that the world will know that we are His disciples.
That pretty much sums up the entirety of Jesus commands to us. Every other command that Jesus gave when he said "If you love me, you will obey my commandments" have their roots in, and flow from, the simple command to love God, love people (your neighbor), and love one another so that the world will see Jesus in us.
I've read that the apostle John, when he was very old, used to go about the place where his church met saying, "little children, love one another", over and over.
One day someone asked John, "why do you continue saying this over and over?"
John is purported to have said, "because our beloved Lord commanded us to love one another as He loved us, and if we really do that, it is enough".
That really is a simple truth, but its also an astoundingly deep, weighty, and purposeful truth.
If we really do love one another as Jesus loved us, serving, sacrificing, submitting and giving to each other, how could that not be enough?
Take a moment and really think of how a community of believers, living lives of sacrificial love, in loving submission and service to each other flowing out of love for and obedience to Christ, would change the fabric of not only their own churches but their communities as well.
I was talking to my brother last week about this "love one another" concept, and he said something simple, and yet very profound.
He said, and I paraphrase but you'll get the gist,
.... if I am loving you, and you are loving me, and you are loving that guy over there too, and he is loving the guy next to him, and he's loving that lady over there who is also loving me and you, and I'm also loving those folks over there, and those folks are loving these folks over here, and we go on and on like this..... who's left to do any hating?
Simple, but profound. And, I submit, correct. Think how that would change our lives?
All the discussions over doctrine and theology are meaningless if they are not infused with the love of Jesus as their base. Jesus is the most perfect revelation of Himself that God has given to us. In Jesus is the fullness of God. In Jesus is revealed the love of God.
As we believers go about our lives we must, must, must remember that love is tantamount. Yes, God's judgment is real, Jesus' atoning sacrifice was because man is sinful and in need of reconciliation with God, and Jesus' triumphant resurrection provided proof of God's power in life and death and life.
But none of this is evident unless, as Jesus commanded, we love one another and show the world that we are His disciples. We must make the truths of God real in our lives, or how will others see it?
No one lights a candle, then hides it under a basket. This little light of mine, I need to let it shine. All believers in Jesus, of all stripes and shades, need to let it shine.
Don't hide your light, friends. Trust God, and remember that no one can blow your candle out. It is lit by the very fire of God's Holy Spirit, which is unquenchable.
Love one another, truly, really, honestly, and sacrificially, as Jesus loved us. I think we'll find, if we want to have an impact on this world for Jesus, "it is enough".
Certainly, even if John was incorrect about "loving one another" being enough, that love is indispensable and the gospel of Jesus cannot be taught, lived, or learned without it. Love is the necessary first ingredient without which nothing else can be done.
Love one another, as Christ loved us. Really love. Let's see how it changes our lives.