by Rev. John Howard Farmer
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We Must Love One Another
I am reminded of a quote allegedly spoken by Henry Ford of his Model T: “You can buy any car, any color you want as long as it is black.” To contemporize the quote, in Virginia in the spring, we might agree that you can buy any car, from any maker, as long as it is yellow.
For the last several decades I can only prosper spring whilst popping Children’s Benadryl. It is the only pharmaceutical that really works for me.
Now that our world is pollen-coated and we’ve all accomplished the early spring season of Palm Sunday and Easter and the grand celebrations are past we need to look at a topic of extreme importance to contemporary believers. 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; Rom. 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, & 2 John 5. Don’t trust me to do your homework. Make the time this week 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 any preacher.
There is perhaps no collection of Biblical mandates as hard to keep as this one thought: loving one another. Some people are just not lovable, 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 lovable when Christ reached out to me? Try another: Do you suppose he liked me at the time?
Friends, we are the inheritors of grace. That is 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, to pardon our transgressions.
You see, 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?
I have found that when dealing with difficult people (aka like me?) I can 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 ungrateful spouse, 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. 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.” Now, that’s a song personified.
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: You will be found obedient. Additionally, we will be forgiven all our previous indiscretions.