What a friend we are in Jesus
Love One Another as I Have Loved You
The Rev. Deacon Lisa Kirby
Easter 5, May 19, 2019
I remember Cortney beginning a sermon one time by observing how advertisers attempt to lure us into wanting the latest gadget, device or upgrade and implying that we “can’t live without it”. Now the device I have may be just fine and do everything I need it to do, but the implication is that if I do not upgrade it, I will somehow have been weighed in the balance and found wanting.
Here’s where we need to constantly upgrade---
Jesus commands us to do one new thing: love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.
But it’s just one thing. And we need to constantly strive to do it better and better, to upgrade our attitudes and our behavior.
The commandment to love is not new, it goes back to Moses, it’s in the ten ones, but here, near the end of his life, Jesus gives us ONE commandment; love one another. There it is. There is no need for multiple tabbed notebooks or reference guides or a quirky fast paced slide show, or consensus building exercises. This is a commandment, not a suggestion; it is new, and we truly cannot live without it.
Some of you may have seen the social media cartoon of Jesus giving this commandment and folks saying “but what if they are of another race, what if they are gay, what if they are dirty” and Jesus says “yes, even if they ask stupid questions”
We vigorously sing “They will know we are Christians by our Love, by our Love.” Fun to sing, harder to live.
Brian Doyle says:
Granted, it's a tough assignment, the original assignment. I get that. Love -- Lord help us, could we not have been assigned something easier, like astrophysics or quantum mechanics? But no -- love those you cannot love. Love those who are poor and broken and fouled and dirty and sick with sores. Love the blowhard, the pompous ass, the arrogant liar. Find the Christ in each heart, even those. Preach the Gospel and only if necessary, talk about it. Be the Word. It is easy to advise and pronounce and counsel and suggest and lecture; it is not so easy to do what must be done without sometimes shirking.
We are called to bring love like a bright weapon against the dark. Jesus was pretty blunt about the hungry and the naked and the sick. Doyle also says that Church should be a verb. When it is only a noun it is not what the Founder asked of us”. Then he says about the church, “Let us pray that we are ever after dissolving the formal officious arrogant thing that wants to rise, and ever forming the contradictory revolutionary counter-cultural thing that could change life on this planet. It could, you know. “
I read recently “Preaching that we are to love our neighbor, welcome the stranger and stand up for the marginalized does not mean we are making political statements, if means we are making Biblical statements.” I think we are going way beyond politics here.
The new kind of love that Jesus commands might require us to open doors that we have closed against others, to respond to appeals that cry out for our help, to forgive oversights or mistakes that someone may have made. To give up our resentments instead of feeding them and proclaiming them to all who will listen.
We need to open our eyes to such things as the fact that the poor in the world belong to our family; that people who live in despair might be saved by our care of them, that peace can come to the world through our efforts.
The responsibility of this commandment can feel overwhelming.
Mother Teresa said, “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”
She also said “the greatest disease in the West today is not TB, leprosy or AIDS; it is being unwanted, uncared for, unloved”
Remember the opposite of love is not hate, it is indifference. To hate someone, you have to acknowledge their existence. If you are indifferent, they simply don’t exist for you. To what or to whom am I indifferent?
What is Biblical love commanding us to do? To acknowledge the existence of those about whom we do not give a thought.
If you are pretty you are pretty. But the only way to be beautiful is to be loving.
I see so many beautiful people in this space; those who concentrate their efforts toward the unwanted, the uncared for and the unloved; the sometimes insidious disease of our Western World.
Jesus knew what love was. Love was and is an action verb. Jesus modeled love for us in everything he did, including his death on the cross. Greater love hath no man than this, than to give up his life for his friends.
We sometimes sing “what a friend we have in Jesus” how about what a friend we are in Jesus, modeling love for others to see as Jesus modeled it for us.
Moses brought us 10 Commandments; Jesus gave us one. Perhaps the one commandment is the latest and greatest upgrade to the original 10. It is to love---and it is the only upgrade that we truly cannot live without