By Nathan Mark
As someone who has lived in the Northwest my whole life, I have grown very accustomed to the sight of Mt. Rainier. Don’t get me wrong, some days when “the mountain is out,” I am overwhelmed by the majestic sight of the mountain as the sun rises, but I have to admit that there are some days when I see it and take it for granted. It becomes ordinary. When my wife’s family come into town, who were all born and raised in the Midwest, it’s fun to watch them as they are blown away by the mountain any time it’s in view, because they’re not used to it.
I have been spending a lot of time in the Gospel of John lately. If I had to put a theme on the whole book of John, it would be this: JESUS IS AMAZING! From start to finish, John paints this beautiful picture of the glory of Jesus. But as I have continued to read it, I’ve been struck by some of the things that Jesus says. They are things I have heard my whole life, things I’ve gotten so used to hearing that I don’t think about. They have become ordinary. But I’ve been asking the question, “What if Jesus really meant what He said … literally?”
I have been drawn to the words of Jesus during and just after the Last Supper. This is the last time that Jesus is with His disciples before going to the cross. It stands to reason that these chapters warrant careful attention as His parting words. If you read chapters 13 through 15, you’ll notice something. Over and over He says, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” He also says, “Those who do not love me, will not keep my commandments.” That seems pretty simple. If you really love Jesus, you do what He says. Period. So just what are Jesus’ commandments? Well, He says clearly to the disciples what His commandment is. In John 13:34 He says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” In 15:12-13 he says, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” And finally, in verse 17, again He says, “This is my command: Love each other.”
Are you seeing what I am seeing? Jesus says we should love people the same way He loved us. How did He love us? He literally laid down His life for us. What if Jesus meant what He said? What if He is actually calling His Church to REALLY love the way He loved? We tend to want to reduce love to a feeling. We tend to want to only love when it makes us feel good and is convenient for us. What would the world look like if we as the Bride of Christ actually took Christ at His word and laid down our lives for each other? Imagine what would happen if the Church stepped up and took in the orphans of the world. Imagine what would happen if we began to help others in need, not just when it was convenient for us. Imagine what would happen if the people of God gave of their time and money, not just when it was comfortable and easy?
What does it look like to really love like Jesus? This is His commandment to us: “Love one another the way I love you. Give yourself up the way I gave Myself up for you.” Are these just nice words that sound good to read but don’t really mean anything, or are we missing something huge?
“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” (James 1:22)