“You must love each other, just as I have loved you.” (John 13:34)
We know about “loving with all our heart, soul and body”. We know about loving “as we love ourselves”. What does it mean, however, to “love each other, just as I have loved you.”?
o We really can’t say his love was ‘non-judgmental’. “White-coated sepulchers”, “generation of vipers” and other descriptive terms he used would certainly have been experienced as a judgment!
o We really can’t argue that his love was without boundaries. At times he pulled away from the crowds to be alone. At times his response was not as asap as wished (remember the sisters of Lazarus?). His response to his mother at Cana re: the wine shortage claimed a boundary (“my time is not yet come” John 2:4).
o We really can’t argue that his love was selfless. As a leader he wanted total commitment. “Follow me.” “Stay awake with me.” “Feed my sheep.”
§ We can say his love always reached out to those that society wanted to reject. The woman in adultery. The tax collector. The leper.
§ We can say that his love believed in its power! “Take up your bed and walk!” “Lazarus, rise.” “Your sins are forgiven.”
§ We can say that his love drew strength from knowing that G-d had a purpose for his life! Things may not seem clear or desirable to Jesus at the time – but his trust in God added power to his love.
Too often our love seems to be diffused and/or diminished because there seems to be rules that say our love as a Christian must be “nice”.
Ø When we speak out against political actions, such as pre-emptive war, there is a message to “speak with honey” so folks will join us.
Ø When we speak for justice for our sisters and brothers who are gay, lesbian or transgender, there is a message to remember that their behavior is a sin! [As if there is any behavior that is not a sin!]
Ø When we demand that G-d loves all peoples – Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Shintos, - we’re told that only Christians are invited to heaven [even though Jesus said “In my father’s house are many mansions.”] – and Jesus’ love never had a theological proof text as a requirement.
A United Church of Christ pastor once told me his definition of sin. “Any time I say, ‘this is it!’ I am sinning because I am claiming to be G-d.” (The Rev. Jerry Jud)
That is what keeps me from loving as Jesus loved. My struggle at not assuming responsibility for G-d – assuming that unless I make certain all the laws are kept, G-d is in danger.
If we were to so love, would the world go to hell more quickly? Would people really live with a licentiousness that disregards the other? Perhaps – although some could argue we are moving in that direction even as we strive to “keep the rules”.
Or would that love be so awesome, that others would be drawn to it?
Might be an experiment worth trying!