Thursday, April 23, 2009

To Act or Be?

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

John 13:34-35

Almost 42 years ago my wife and married in a small church in Lexington, Ohio. It was a sunny December day and as the custom was then we partied for about fifteen minutes after the ceremony before heading off for our life together. The rest of our families stayed behind to celebrate without us.

When we arrived at the Howard Johnson’s Motor Lodge on East Broad Street in Columbus I was trying to be as calm and casual as I could be when I went into the office to get the key to our room. Not that it was obvious enough since I had reserved the “Honeymoon Suite,” but then I reached in my pocket and pulled out my wallet. When I opened it grains of rice came pouring out on the desk. I don’t remember the reaction of the clerk. I just remember how quickly I tried to make my exit with the key.

When newlyweds truly love each other it is quite evident to all who see them together. The great news for my wife and I is that we are still enjoying that relationship after more than four decades together.

Jesus said there is one way to absolutely identify His disciples. That way is by seeing the loving relationship in which they live with each other.

The part of John 13:34 that is difficult to understand is that our love for each other must be like the love that Jesus has for us. It is redemptive love. It is sacrificial love. It is love that will last through eternity. It is love that is not deserved and certainly not completely appreciated. So the love that we have for each other as followers of Jesus tells the story of the love of Jesus all over again. The love of Jesus reproduces itself in all of His followers.

Some question why we as believers need to be in fellowship with other believers. It is truly because only then can we love each other as He loved us.

There was a short chorus that became popular in worship services in the 70’s. It began, “To be like Jesus, to be like Jesus. All I ask to be like Him.”

The words were not “To ACT like Jesus,” but rather “To BE like Jesus.” Followers of Jesus can ACT like Jesus and not BE like Jesus. You can ACT like Jesus without loving other followers. But you cannot BE like Jesus without loving each other.

Loving each other as He loved us is the way the rest of the world will know if we are truly disciples of Jesus.

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