LOVE. At the end of I Corinthians 13 it says in the end faith, hope & love will remain, but the greatest of these is love.
Matthew 5:43-44 says: “You have heard that it was said, ‘you shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.
Matthew 22:34-40 says: When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. ”Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, ” ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these TWO commandments hang ALL the law and the prophets.”
Luke 6:27-28 says: “But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.
Luke 6:31-33 says: “Do to others as you would have them do to you (the golden rule was spoken by Jesus). If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners to the same.
Luke 6:37 says: “Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.
ALL these above speak of Love. If Jesus is the image of the invisible God then we must consider the words that came out of his mouth as paramount to anything else. We also must read everything else through the lenses of what Jesus said. Jesus did indeed change everything.
Jesus said if you love me you will follow me and do the things that I do. I find it very interesting in Matthew 25 in talking about the infamous Sheep & the Goats passage that the defining fruit of following Jesus is a social LOVE.
Matthew 25:35-36 says: “for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.
Of course the righteous then were confused and began to ask we never saw you in any of these situations. Jesus then says in Matthew 25:40: “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.
LOVE is why Jesus came.
LOVE is what Jesus lived.
LOVE is what Jesus gave to all, even enemies, perhaps especially to enemies.
LOVE is what Jesus gave to all the disenfranchised. The woman at the well in Samaria with whom Israel were mortal enemies. The lepers who he touched physically even thought that would make him unclean. Mary who anointed his feet probably in a rather inappropriate way for the culture & those that were there. He even defended her and did not sexualize it. He knew her heart. The blind & the lame that were healed. Even the Centurion, who could have possibly been asking him to heal his gay lover if we understand Roman culture & history right, was given grace, love & respect. And what about Zacchaeus. What about the amazing respect & love he gave to women at great risk or leaving the 99 for the 1.
LOVE is why he told God that even though he would rather the cup of the cross be taken from him that he was willing to do what was best for all of us.
Romans 5:18 says: “Therefore just as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for ALL, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to justification and life for ALL.
Jesus’ LOVE for others trumped the selfishness of Adam. That is powerful.
I believe we have tried to replace the fruit of loving action, compassion, mercy & grace with morality just like the Pharisees were doing. Its easier to put on the veneer of morality & piety rather than follow Jesus into the depths of the garbage dumps of humanity. He went all the wrong places, talked to all the wrong people, touched the unclean, and healed at all the wrong times.
God is LOVE. I Corinthians says the greatest of these is LOVE. Jesus epitomized LOVE. This is why we can’t just try to take the easy route of morality as if that is the fruit of the Holy Spirit. The fruit of the Holy Spirit is following Jesus.
We can’t live a normal life and LOVE as Jesus did.
We can’t be a part of a normal church or faith community and LOVE as Jesus did.
We can’t put ourselves first and LOVE as Jesus did.
We can’t hang on to our riches and our lifestyles and love as Jesus did.
We can’t Judge anyone and LOVE as Jesus did.
We can’t hate or talk bad about our enemies and LOVE as Jesus did. (yes that means political leaders we disagree with and those whom we think are immoral)
We can’t subscribe to any earthly political system and LOVE as Jesus did.
We can’t not take action or look the other way when injustice arises and LOVE as Jesus did.
TAKE IT FOR WHAT IT IS. God is LOVE. Don’t be afraid to evaluate yourself. Don’t be a fool. If you evaluate yourself and you do not find a wholehearted desire to LOVE as Jesus did then change. Its not too late. Follow Jesus with all your heart & bear the fruit of LOVE!
Faith is when you evaluate & realize you need to step out & make a change.
Hope is when you realize that the impossible might be possible.
Love is when you realize that following Jesus is going to require you to leave everything you hold dear behind. To take action that will go against the flow. Don’t worry about “how” church should be or fight over carpets or buildings or Pastors that may be good or bad …. Worry about yourself AND worry about People! Love others as you would have them love you if you were them.
THESE 3 REMAIN: FAITH, HOPE & LOVE. BUT THE GREATEST OF THESE IS LOVE!