Two sweethearts looked at one another and almost simultaneously said, “I love you.” It was a moment born in a romantic heaven. The sincerity and deep emotion would have been thrilling to most anyone present. Their wedding day was less than a month away and extensive plans had been made. Dozens of family members and friends already were cheering for their marital success and looked forward to the religious ceremony. They were not only decent young people, but also highly respected. It was inspirational to see so much love between two people.
The soon-to-be husband and wife were Christians and loved the church in which they would be married. Something awesome and rather strange had come over them, however, during these days just before the service. They sensed that while their love for one another was right and as it should be, God’s love in another dimension somehow and someway was more profound. They had read many times, “You shall love the Lord your God with your whole heart, soul, mind and strength.” They also knew Jesus commanded His followers to love one another. What a way to begin a beautiful Christlike marriage!
I. Pervasive Love (
The Son of the Father loves us in the same way the Father loves Him. How does one measure such love? It is almost beyond description except for one act of sacrifice—the crucifixion. The death on the cross continues to be explored 2,000 years later. Why would a totally innocent man suffer the excruciating pain and total embarrassment for millions?
Until we allow the cross in all of its power to be a continual part of our thinking, I believe we cannot understand what this is about. It is His crushed body and flowing blood for sinners that enables us to come to terms with a love that knows no boundaries. He was obedient to the cross. We are to obey His teaching and remain also in such a powerful love that sends a clear and distinctive message to the world. He obeyed His Father, and we must obey Him. It is a love that pervades all of life and death now and forevermore.
II. Complete Joy (
When we allow our lives to be filled with His love, a joy that is really foreign to the world at large comes into play. There is a marvelous and sustained happiness that grips us and spreads to others. Our Savior and Lord wants us to experience what He freely gives. It is a complete joy that only He can bestow. As we kneel before the command to love everyone, especially those of the household of faith, something (Someone) very powerful happens to us. There is a frame of mind and temperament of heart that glows within us for others. The key that unlocks the door is loving others as Christ loves us. Oh, I want this more than anything else in this world. Don’t you? To be spiritually formed this way gives us a taste of glory to come.
III. Perfect Friendship (
Are we able to lay down our lives for our friends? Christ did, and He expects us to do the same. That is a simple concept, but wisdom says it’s very difficult to do! We read and study of martyrdom, especially in the early centuries of the church. Some were in perfect friendship with their Savior and Lord. The Holy Spirit abided and provided in such a way that believers became “little Christs.” They so powerfully imitated their Master that they became one with Him and exemplified Him in ways beyond pagan comprehension.
Is there a call for that today? We know the answer is yes and has been true—to some extent—in every generation. In these great acts of sacrifice, they shared in the intimacy of the Father and the Son. In light of Sept. 11, 2001, we are alerted to the real possibility of our own martyrdom in ways we may never have visualized before.
IV. Total Success (
We are a chosen bunch of sinners called to be saved by grace and live our lives in ways that witness powerfully to the world! Total success comes as the Holy Spirit subdues our spirits and enables us to bear fruit that lasts. To be sure, the world does not understand this and never will. We are fools for Christ’s sake. We live and labor in ways the unsaved find not only foolish but stupid to the point of utter insanity.
Who would dare do loving deeds that benefit others but not him or herself? Who would dare do something that has no monetary reward attached? Who would throw away his or her life in such a way that recognition and financial gain are absent? It is a stupendous way of life we Christians have, provided we seek at all times and places, with whomever we find ourselves, to obey the command of love with no strings attached. Yes, and on top of that, the Father will give us whatever we ask in His Son’s name!
John’s Gospel passage has a heavenly sweetness to it. It provides for us a way to see, understand and practice the Christian life. It does so pervasively, completely, perfectly and totally. Shall we continue our lives along the edges and never enter the Promised Land? Shall we be content with minimal Christianity that lacks the power Christ intended? Perhaps on judgment day our dear Lord will inquire, “Why did you do so little with so much at your fingertips?” It is not too late, but let us not test the Father’s mercy.