Give Yourself to Others …

My personal journey, part 4

Posted on: 2009/09/14

Okay, so, I’ve gotten to the point that I’m focused on the two commands that Jesus described as the greatest commands in the Mosaical Law:  Love God … and love your neighbor as yourself.

I’m not sure exactly how long I contemplated the question of how those commands work themselves out in my life.  It seemed like a long time, but I didn’t try to keep track of the time.

Then, one days I was watching brief video presentation by one of my spiritual mentors, Landon Saunders.  He was talking about 1 John 4.  And, the light bulb lit up.  Here’s the important versions, beginning in 1 John 4:7 (NIV)

7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

13 We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. 17 In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.

What struck me about this passage is that it seems to say, you can tell if someone loves God, by whether he loves his brother.  (I’m ignoring the question of who is my brother, for the moment.)  That seems much more understandable.  I can get my mind around that.  It seems very simple and clear.

The simplicity and clarity of this idea was reinforced when I read two section of the Gospel of John… 13:34 and 15:32.  First, John 13:34 (NIV), you can read the entire context by reading the whole chapter:

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Wow.  Talk about simple and straight forward:  Love one another, the way Jesus loved us.  Could it be any simpler to grasp!  Not easy to do but anyone can get that message.

Just for emphasis, Jesus repeated himself in John 15, specifically, verses 9-17 (NIV)

9“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. 14You are my friends if you do what I command. 15I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 17This is my command: Love each other.

Note the emphasis I added — almost identical to John 13:34.  Straight from the mouth of Jesus.

Here’s another interesting point, which I make for emphasis.  I looked up the Greek word for command, to see where else Jesus used the word.  The only place Jesus used the word command to describe his own words are here in John 13 and John 15.  Even several years after discovering this point, I’m a little cautious about making too much of it.  But I still think it is a telling point.

But now I’m faced with the other question I posed earlier — what does it really mean to love?  Six Greek words = One English word.  That doesn’t help much.  So, next time, I’ll tell you what I’ve learned about that.

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