Dear friends in Christ,
This coming Sunday, we hear verses from John 15 in the Gospel reading. Jesus says, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”
I know I say this a lot, but we Christians really have to work at understanding what Jesus means when he talks about love. It’s not a feeling. It doesn’t come with a Hollywood soundtrack. It’s not just being extra-nice to people.
Christian love is work. It’s not always easy. It doesn’t care about our preferences or convenience. Christian love takes practice. A lifetime of practice.
Think about what Jesus is saying when he tells us we are to love one another as he loves us. He loved us perfectly. He loved people who convention said should be unloved. He always told the truth. He challenged assumptions. He loved us sacrificially.
That means we are called to do the same. We are called to love the unlovable. We are called to speak the truth always. We are called to challenge assumptions. We are called to love others sacrificially. We are called to love perfectly.
It’s an impossible commandment to keep. After all, we are not Jesus Christ! But Jesus sets our direction, the way we should orient our lives. Our baptismal liturgy challenges us to grow into the full stature of Christ. Part of that is growing toward perfect love. We’ll never make it, but it is our hope.
How can we do this? Left to our own devices, we can’t. But we have two secret weapons.
First, Jesus promised us that the Holy Spirit would abide with us. We are not left on our own.
Second, we have the church. We have a bunch of other disciples who are stumbling along with us trying to figure out what it means to love others as Jesus loved us. We can celebrate when we get it right, and we can hold each other up when we get it wrong.
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