Love, Jesus Style
[No audio version of the blog posts this week.]
The Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! – Galatians 5:22-23
[Jesus says,] “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love.10 When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.11 I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! 12 This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you.” – John 15:9-12
Hang around Jesus and you’ll learn some things. Things about religion without love. Things about compassion, forgiveness, and mercy. Zeal for God’s house. And patience. I think of patience as essential to love. Think of how many times Jesus surely had to sigh when Peter made one of his faux pas. And from his heart must have issued grace, compassion, and long-suffering (another and very apt synonym for patience). Else the sighs would have turned to bitter words of frustration: Again! Don’t you get it?!?!
This is the need in order to love people close to us. My wife will do something that annoys me, and I find it difficult to be patient. Just ask her about times she seeks help on her computer. It’s not pretty. (Of course, I never do anything to annoy her!) But patience calls forth a different response. It springs from a humility about our own place in the universe. People don’t have to conform to my standard of righteousness. I am not The Final Judge of all things. A humble spirit will stand me in good stead when patience is called for.
A friend might annoy you. The longer you get to know him, the more irritating his peccadilloes become. The longer your friendship the less you are able to put up with her pettiness. Or her nosiness. Or his rudeness. Take your pick. We all have our hot buttons. And most of all it’s because we believe we alone have the true perspective on right and wrong and how that should be played out in the lives of others. We forget that we don’t know the whole story.
This is a challenge for humble people; especially for those who vow never to be arrogant. For when we vow not to do something we blind ourselves to the very ways we are arrogant, judgmental, and impatient.
This is where Jesus comes in. He is without sin. He is not blind. He has faced temptation and won the battle. And he knows us fully. This may be a frightening prospect: he knows all about me?!? Yes. And he loves the real you. The very real you. And he has patience toward you. And me. And this is love. It will culminate in his death on the cross. There he lays down his life for our sake. He refuses to demand his way. He allows himself to be completely misunderstood. He embraces the sin of the world.
That is the greatest love of all. It may not mean a literal cross. But it will mean taking up our cross in the figurative sense. Letting go of our need to justify ourselves. Refusing to judge others. Letting ourselves be misunderstood. Graciously forgiving those who have offended us. Trusting in God through it all. Because we have been loved. Perfectly. Truly. Eternally. I hope that love will shape my heart more and more each day. You???
How may times must we hear this statement before it strikes a new target in our hearts? “He embraces the sin of the world.” This follows the frightening declaration that ” he knows all about me?!? Yes. And he loves the real you. The very real you.”
To the first truth, the words, “as if they were his own to bear” rolled right through my thoughts as if they had also been written into your post. The truth is, Jesus knows me and; all of us, down to every last detailed word or deed we’ve thought; even those we’ve taken captive whether they are right and filled with blessing or filled with sin.
But, they we not His to bear. They were ours; mine belonging to the very real me who He loves and for which in our sin we could not atone and so Jesus took them – “He took them to the Father; He took them to the Son, He took them to the Spirit; Three-in-One. Paid for in the fullness of all time” (last stanza from a poem called, “Taken.”
Back to the stunning statement, “He embraces the sin of the world.” I don’t readily go down the path of desiring to pay the bills belonging to others, let alone taking onto myself the responsibility for all sin and evil others have perpetuated. But Jesus did. He wrapped His arms around it all, carried it to the cross, holding it as if he were holding precious treasure. Think a moment of the last long and loving embrace you experienced – this does not hold a candle to Jesus love for us.
Thank you for all you are sharing on the Fruit of the Spirit. Clearly, it provoked many thoughts on which my mind and heart are ruminating.