Going Deeper 5-17-19

The Gospel reading for Easter 5...
John 13:31-35   When he had gone out, Jesus said, "Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him.  If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once.  Little children, I am with you only a little longer.  You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, 'Where I am going, you cannot come.'  I give you a new commandment, that you love one another.  Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."

How is it possible to love like Jesus?  Is this something we can just decide to do?  Is it an act of the will?  If Jesus gave this as a 'commandment' it must be something we are capable of doing, right?

As is the case with many questions of faith and spirituality, there are no clear and simple answers to these questions.  Loving like Jesus is something we can decide to do, and it does involve an act of the will, but that's not the whole thing.  This "new commandment" of Jesus is something we are capable of fulfilling, but we are definitely going to need some help.

First of all, we clearly need the help of the Holy Spirit.  And perhaps one of the first things the Holy Spirit will help us to see is how woefully short we have come in terms of truly loving as Jesus loved.  His love was completely selfless and without limit.  Even our best attempts almost always have some less-than-pure and self-centered motives.  

If we are going to grow more loving, there is more hard and painful work to be done.  The Spirit must help us to see more clearly the terrible depth of our brokenness.  As we confess in our liturgies, we have not loved God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength.  And as we have just noted, neither have we truly love our neighbors as a self.  In truth, have we even come close?

As we hear Jesus teach in a marvelous story in Luke 7, "the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little."  (read Luke 7:36-47)  I have come to believe that the only way to truly love like Jesus is to experience His great grace covering our deep sinfulness.  When we see that we've been forgiven much, we are moved and empowered to love much.  Loved people love people.  I do not believe there is another way.

With You in His Love,
Mark Gabbert, Pastor
Zion Lutheran Church
Wellington, Colorado

"No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care."