Wednesday, February 25, 2015

To Love is "More than Words"

It has been more than three years since I last shared in front of everybody on our church's Wednesday service.  And this is my first time to share as a cell group leader (since during the past two years of leading my own cell group, as part of their training, I assigned my cell members to do the sharing whenever it's our cell group's turn to share.  Now that all the [regular] members have shared already, it's now my time to do it)...       

(RE: John 13:31-38)

One of my favorite songs is entitled “More than Words” which states that merely saying “I love you” is not at all an absolute confirmation of the authenticity of one’s love.  There is also the saying, “Love is a verb.”  It means that love is something that requires actions. 

In our passage, Jesus commands us to love each other.  And according to verse 34, the love that we show has to be the same kind of love that Jesus has shown us.  And Jesus’ kind of love is packed with substantial self-denying actions.  This is the kind of love that made him willingly humble himself to wash the feet of his disciples.  And this is the kind of love that made him willingly lay his life on the cross for us. 

Therefore – just like what the song “More than Words” stated – there is more to loving our brethren than just saying to them “I love you in the Lord” whenever we congregate.  We should show it through Christ-like action, also.  There should be willingness to serve, to be deferent, and to sacrifice with glad hearts.  We should be ready to give up our privilege, resources, or convenience to show the love of Jesus Christ.  And this love even extends to the point we should be ready to lay our lives for each other.  Just like Jesus.     

Now, carrying out this command to love each other in such a way that Jesus showed is incredibly difficult, if not virtually impossible – especially if the mandated recipient of our love is “unlovable.”  That’s why to carry out Christ-like deeds, we definitely need Christ-like motivations.  Where did Jesus draw his strength to love the unlovable?  The glory of God (verse 31 and 32)!   Jesus knew that the glory of God is supremely worth every sacrifice and every labor.  Jesus loves his Father and His glory, and Jesus loves glorifying His Father.    

In the same way, the only we can truly carry out Christ’s command to love – or any of His commands for that matter – is if we also supremely love and value Jesus Christ.  That He is a Superior Treasure that is worth giving up everything in this world.  And, thus, for Jesus’ sake, we will love others as He loved us – willing to deny any personal benefits, comforts, and advantages for others.  Jesus is infinitely worth it.  And through our loving actions, others can also see and experience this truth.        

So, basically, the key for us to be able to love our neighbors as ourselves is to first love God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our strength and with all our mind.  Before we can sincerely tell others, “I love you in the Lord”, we should be able to sincerely say, “I love you, Lord.”  Furthermore, we can also logically conclude that the extent of how we carry out the commandment of loving others is directly proportional to the state of our love-relationship with God.  Our love for God is reflected on how we demonstrate our love for others. 

But, personally, when I evaluate myself of the times I say “I love you, Lord” or “I love you in the Lord” – of how substantial or shallow my words really are – I feel like Peter who declared, “I will lay down my life for you” (verse 37) but when action was required of him succumbed to denying Jesus three times.  My hypocrisy distresses and appalls me. 

But I’m comforted of the fact that Jesus grants repentance and restoration.  Through the work of the Holy Spirit, Peter was transformed into a resolute, courageous apostle of Christ – used by God to considerably spread the Gospel after Jesus’ ascension.  And when the time came that it was required for Peter to lay down his life, he truly did, as legend tells us that Peter was crucified upside down (by his refusal to be crucified the same way as his Savior, since he felt unworthy to be so) for his faith.  There is truly redemption in Jesus Christ, and for that, I’m eternally thankful.       

As application, I ask forgiveness for my hypocrisy, idolatry, selfishness, and lack of love.  And I thank God for his promises of granting anything I ask that will ensure my joy in His glory.  Thus, I ask the Holy Spirit to truly renew my nature so that I can totally love and value God above everything else, and, as a result, I can also be able to have genuine, Christ-like love for others.       

Thank you and to God be the glory.

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