Christian Living · Pratical Christianity

TO LOVE AND BE LOVED

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Not everyone studies philosophy or becomes a philosopher in life but everyone is a philosopher when it comes to love. We talk about it everywhere, love is, says one person, a deep emotional feeling for someone. We sing about it and say love is a cloud we don’t want to come off from. Then suggest it is thorny and painful. Shakespeare wrote in’ Merchant of Venice’ that love is blind. Aristotle said, ‘love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies’. Mahatma Gandhi implied that where there is no love there is no life and Gilbert said,’ it is love that makes the world go round’ (and the same was repeated and sung in episode 15 of Power puff Girls). Love is that topic that has been talked of so much we have branded it overdone and clichéd. Before saying what this post is about, I will say what it is not about; am not going to try and decipher the definition of love, suggest a formula for loving right or give 15 facts about love. What this post is entirely about is HIS kind of love.

TO LOVE- A PATTERN FOR LOVE.

The minute you think you mastered it you return right back to the pattern of what you think love should like. Maybe you are not finding it coz you are not defining it right?-Take it easy, Beautiful Eulogy.

Leviticus 19:18
You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbour as yourself: I am the Lord.-NKJV

John 13:34-35
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you love another-NKJV

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Loving others is one of the greatest commandments given to us. This sets us straight off the book that love is not merely a feeling but a lifestyle. Loving others was still expected of in the Old Testament but Jesus came into the picture and gave a new commandment. New because an older version of it existed, and the command was to love your neighbour as yourself. When Jesus stepped into the picture, the focus of love changed and the command given was, love one another as I have loved you. The new command entailed a pattern and model to look up to. Jesus has become our pattern and model for love. Jesus lived on Earth as God incarnate. Fully God and fully man and His ministry was the epitome of love. He set the example for us and looking back at His life two pointers stand out for me.

He loved with no prerequisites or discrimination
Jesus did not centre his love on the most popular or distinguished men in society neither did He focus his love entirely on the men He walked with-his disciples. His love for them was evident but it did not stop there. He loved with no bounds. The book of Luke 19:1-10 talks about the story of Zacchaeus the tax collector. Jesus spotted this man up on a tree and desired to dine with him in his house.

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Jesus saw beyond the titles and tags the world had branded this guy with and loved him enough to go to his house where many wouldn’t. Throughout the bible Jesus did not place a standard on the kind of people He would love and care for. This goes to show that loving neighbour and stranger, friend and foe, the ‘lovable’ and ‘unlovable’ is possible and willed of us by God.

1st Thessalonians 4:9-10
Now about brotherly love we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. And in fact, you do love all the brothers throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you brothers to do so more and more.-NIV

The beauty of having Jesus as our pattern and model for love is that we don’t have to struggle to do it on our own. Paul reminded the Thessalonians that we are not called to love each other of our own self, God himself teaches us how to love because He is love (1st John 4:7-16).

His attitude of love was that of a servant and involved practical deeds

John 13:1
It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.

What follows after that is Jesus washing his disciples’ feet. As I was thinking about it, I imagined how Jesus and his disciples walked around so much and that the kind of shoes they wore did not so much as harbour their feet from dirt. There were probably no sidewalks or socks. Jesus demonstrated his love to his disciples by rolling up his sleeves and washing the dirty feet of the very people who were meant to wash his feet. Truly what manner of love! That the way he chose to show love was by serving his disciples. We are called to lay aside our ranks, titles, prestige and crowns and assume the form of a servant and involve ourselves in practical deeds of love and helpfulness.

 

Jesus did not so much talk about His love for mankind as much as he showed his love for us by performing compassionate acts and finally dying on the cross for a people who crucified him. Jesus embodied love in this world in a way that always considered the physical and spiritual needs of people. It is lovely to tell others of our heartfelt compassion for them but it is ultimately our actions that will provide the care.

THIS IS HOW THEY WILL KNOW

By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another-John 13:35 (NIV)
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.-1st John 4:7-8 (NKJV).

Are you really a disciple? Have you really been changed? Is Jesus really your treasure? They will all know if you have love for one another. Love is the confirmation of the trueness of the faith you profess. Jesus was essentially saying that loving each other was more than imitating his pattern of love. That at the end of the day, the command to love one another just like Jesus loved is not merely a call of imitation but participation. We have not been called to copy the fruit of the spirit of love but to be connected to the vine.

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Refer to John 15:5-9

It is only possible to love one another if we choose to abide in God. In essence, apart from God we can do nothing. Apart from God we cannot love the way Jesus did, unconditionally. It is in abiding (to remain stable and fixed) in God that we are given the very love God has with which to love each other. It is in abiding (to await submissively) in God that God himself loves others through us. It is in abiding (to dwell) in the love of the Jesus (John 15:9) that we are able to love one another as Jesus does-laying aside privileges for one another, loving across ethnic lines and racial groups, loving the selfish and the ones you just don’t understand, loving the disabled, youngest and oldest. Loving the lonely and trouble makers. Loving the judgemental and extremists. Loving the ones out to get you and the constant irritating ones. There is no one you cannot love.

Some of the things I eagerly look forward to in life are the things I quite fear at the same time-courting, marriage, motherhood, mentoring and lifelong friendships just to mention a few. This is because they all require giving off of my trust and love and receiving the same. For some of us, loving and being loved is a challenge. We are afraid of rejection, getting hurt, failure and just not being good enough. So we become hesitant to invest in other peoples live or to receive love from the people God has brought into our lives. It is a process, but we need to learn to focus more on God and His love instead of our own fears, desire for validation and acceptance because we are not meant to create our own kind of love.

It’s not about working to love.  We have been called into a communion and intimacy with God, who is love and the end result is reflecting His nature among which is love.

Before we can stretch our hands and expand our hearts to love others we first need to receive and accept that God, He loves you.

All but left with no breath and awestruck. This is cause to pause to give thought to it. Selah! Say y’all ever thought about that there’s never been an identical sun rise? So wonderful. Wrapped in jackets of amber and stands with universe in hand and our tears in bottles. He collects them. Lined in perfect symmetry across the shelves of the throne room. Next to the full and accurate count of every electron everywhere and every follicle of hair on our head. Modern psychology would call it obsessive compulsive. But that’s only if he ain’t had the bandwidth, I call it love and it’s wonderful- Beautiful Eulogy .

Photos: Courtesy

 

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