Rev. John Farmer’s ‘Reflections’ column


by Rev. John H. Farmer
Visit the Irvington Baptist Church website>

Go Ahead, Love One Another

The older I get, the faster life ebbs. More and more I am reminded that I must get most serious about all things eternal, and quickly so at that.

Let’s nibble away at a topic of extreme importance to contemporary Christians. It hails from a harvest of New Testament truths. Here’s the list of texts from which we will launch our thoughts; John 13:34, 15:12, 15:17; Romans 12:10, 13:8; 1 Thessalonians 4:9; 1 Peter 1:22; 1 John 3:11, 3:14, 3:23, 4:7, 4:11-12, and 2 John 5.

Don’t trust me to do your homework. Make the time to read the collection for yourself. Ask of each text, how does this affect me? How should I respond to this text? In light of this passage, how does Christ expect me to live? After all, it is how each individual responds to Christ, not how you relate to this preacher.

There are few Biblical mandates as hard to keep as this one thought: Loving One Another. Some people (maybe even many) are just plain not loveable, or at least it seems that way. A deeper look into the truth foretold and we process the word more maturely.

Keep this in mind: you do not have to like a person to love them. Further, we must separate actions from personhood. How, you might ask can we stand the test? Ask yourself one simple question: Was I loveable when Christ reached out to me? Try another: Do you suppose He liked me at the time?

We are the inheritors of grace, the unmerited favor of God despite our circumstances, lifestyle, or behavior. In His innocence He found enough love to see in us that which we might have been, and that which we still can be, and to pardon our transgressions.

It is about what Christ did, by dying for our sin, not what we did or did not do. We align ourselves under the shadow of His cross. His vicarious death, for the punishment of sin, enables us to stand beneath a blanket of love. Should we do less in our daily relationships with other human beings?

When dealing with difficult people (like me) I relate better if I focus on who that person is to Christ, not just to me. The orneriest scoundrel I know, that meanest family member, that unappreciative boss, that nasty co-worker, that gossipy neighbor, all have one thing in common: Jesus loves them. In fact He loves them just as much as He loves me. He loves us without reservation, without prejudice. How we respond to that love makes all the difference.

Read and re-read the collection of texts. Applying them is yet another chore. It is, however, not beyond our capacity, if, that is, we make a leap of faith. Sometimes I sing softly to myself a hymn of long-standing appreciation. You know the one. It goes like this: “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so… Yes, Jesus loves me, yes Jesus loves me, yes Jesus loves me, for the Bible tells me so.” Now sing it again replacing the personal pronoun “me” with “you.”

From the Bible we glean that our love should be focused first upon God in Christ, next on others, and lastly so, on self. “Love the Lord, thy God with all your heart, all your mind…” sets the pace. We access Him through His Son Jesus, who became the Christ (Crucified One), who becomes our Savior simply for the asking and our commitment to believe. He disciples us to care one for the other. That care was so lovingly demonstrated when He would not leave this world until he assured His mom that she would be cared for: “John she is your mother, mom he is your son.” Our present task is to relate such caring for all those around us.

Nine years ago Hazel and I had been abroad sloshing about the Med. We took a slow boat six days back across the Atlantic. God gave us a new grandson to welcome us home. Porter’s entrance into our family was threatened. His lungs were compromised. He was shipped to another hospital, without his mom. Prayer calls went out. Many friends, neighbors, church and family folk responded adding to the chorus of love. God heard them.

Here we are this week, thankfully, lovingly celebrating with Porter while he is on his 2017 spring break from Chesapeake Academy. His mom, dad and little brother loaned him to us, with love.

I know of no other more beneficial task for the coming week than to tackle the concept of “Loving One Another.” Christ will be honored and we will be blessed. It may make no difference at all how that other person relates to us. No matter. Nothing in scripture says that we can make others love us. The Devil reminds us about how others relate to us all the time. Forget all that eye for an eye, and grow the seeds of grace given to each of us.

Loving one another is about how we accept the teachings of Christ and apply them to self daily. Go ahead and risk it: you will be found obedient.