I thought it was appropriate to finish The Jesus Way series on the theme of love. There are few things as important as love. We need love and need to love. When we are not loved and when we are unable to love—that is about as painful as life gets.
While we long for love, we are afraid of rejection (of not being loved) and so many of us hold back from loving and being loved because we just don’t know if it will last. Which is why this thought from C.S. Lewis is so powerful.
1 John 4:8 tells us perfect love casts out fear. To become a Christian is to connect with the perfect love of God. To grow as a Christian is to grow in our capacity to live in that love and then to live out of that love.
Christianity is NOT unique in that it talks about love. It is quite unique in what it says about love. Here are five teachings of what Christianity says about love. I’ve provided the biblical texts for you to do a little more study if you like.
ONE: Christianity takes to the highest level possible the overwhelming love God has for you.
Watch this video on the Overwhelming Love of God. Everything the song says, it says about God’s love for you.
1 John 3:16. God the Son gave up his life, because that is what love does.
Romans 5:6-11. The Father and the Son did this even when we were ungodly, helpless, sinful and his enemies—because that is what love does.
The Parable of the Prodigal Son illustrates this kind of love that is overwhelming, never ending, reckless, wild, and beautiful—for YOU. You can read that in Luke 15:11-32.
TWO: Christianity Grounds Love in its True Source: God who is love.
1 John 4:7-21 is the most concentrated chapter on the love of God (1 Corinthians 13 is the second best chapter on love in the Bible). As you read this, you see that God and God alone is the source of real, true, perfect love. As you read these verses, circle the word love each time you find it.
THREE: Christianity “radically” expands the scope and audience who is to be loved.
Not just family and friends and neighbors (although they are often hard enough to love) but also the other, the stranger, the outsider, the down and out, those at risk, those who are really different from you, and those who might even be an “enemy.”
In the famous Sermon on the Mount passage, Jesus teaches this very thing. See Matthew 5:44-46.
The second most famous parable, the Parable of the Good Samaritan, illustrates this. See Luke 10:25-37.
In John 12:34-35, Jesus tells us the hallmark, distinguishing characteristic of being his follower is LOVE.
Wow, do we ever have endless opportunities in 2020 to love those who are outside our own “tribe.”
FOUR: Christianity Deepens the Nature of Love
It goes way beyond being polite, civil and friendly. It means being generous, sacrificial, forgiving, persevering, overwhelming, never-ending, unconditional. It is a “sweating blood” and “burden bearing” love. It includes all the qualities listed in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. The Bible uses the word COVENANT to describe a love like this. And it is truly an amazing love. The kind of love God has for you, is to become the kind of love you have for others.
Watch the video for O the Deep, Deep, Love of Jesus. This is one of the most beautiful hymns ever written.
FIVE: Christianity Ramps Up the Priority, Importance and Urgency of Love.
Matthew 22:36-40 is the Great Commandment(s). Jesus says that the entire rest of the Bible is just a commentary on how to love. An explanation and illustration of a love like this.
Jesus also said the distinguishing mark of Christianity is the love we have for one another. Right now, in our politically charged times, Christians need to love other Christians who think and vote differently. The political groups of the nation despise one another. Christians love other Christians . . . we may need to speak truth IN LOVE to one another. But before we speak what we think is truth, we LOVE FIRST. Without love, our words, even if truthful, will be nothing more than noisy, clanging cymbals.
In Revelation 2:5, through John, Jesus says keep your first love (of God). Don’t let go of it ever. If you do, turn back. Love God first. Because, it is only as you love God first and foremost will you find the ability to love all other earthly things properly. One book talks about our need for a REORDERED LOVE. Get and keep God first and all other loves will work. Put something else in God’s place and all other loves will go bad.
Be sure to read Revelation 2:5 in The Message translation by Eugene Peterson.
No Christianity is not unique in talking about love, but in the way it talks about love, Christianity is very unique.
Paraphrasing John 20:21, “As the Father God who is love like this, sent the God the Son Jesus, who is love like this, Jesus is sending you his follower to love like this.” It is the Jesus Way.
This is the kind of love the world needs.
The world needs the kind of people who love like this.
The word need missional friends of Jesus—everyone, everywhere, all the time, making our way through the world —with love like this.
That is simply and always and only The Jesus Way.
Christians—everyone, everywhere, all the tine—loving like Jesus loved.
Learning to love like Jesus along with you,