Advancing the Conversation of Jesus
Peace, joy, and now the experience of love. Although peace and joy are commonly identified with Jesus, love is the most common theme of who Jesus is and what he taught. Most Christian children know the song, “Jesus loves me, this I know.” Jesus is the epitome of love. To act like Jesus is to do the loving thing. Jesus taught that his followers ought to learn to be lovers.
Jesus was asked a few times to define the greatest commandment. He was never able to answer that question with just one commandment, but with two inseparable commands. Matthew records: But when the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered themselves together. One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”” (Matthew 22:34-40) The answer is to love God with all your heart, soul and mind and to love your neighbor as yourself. There’s something very fundamental about loving someone greater than your self-something of an inner balance that keeps you and your life in proper perspective.
When Jesus was alone with his disciples before his death, he took love to another level. He said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” To Jesus this experience of love is not just to love God and to love your neighbor, but to love one another. Loving one another is to be the mark of one who is a follower of Jesus.
Next, Jesus goes to the most extreme level of love possible-love your enemy. He says,“But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Treat others the same way you want them to treat you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. But love your enemies, and do good, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High.” (Luke 6:27-36)
Jesus-style love ranges from loving God, loving your neighbor, loving one another, and even to the extreme of loving your enemies. What’s most convicting to us is that this experience of love is not just an emotional state of being. It’s a state of doing, whether you feel it or not. We don’t need more love; we need more lovers!