Just One Thing

John 13: 34 – 35

I am giving you a new commandment, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples: if you have love for one another.”

What does it mean to be a Christian? What are Christian values? What makes a good Christian? These can be challenging questions, but Jesus simplified them for us.

There really is only one Christian virtue. The rest of our value system flows from it. God is love. Christianity is love. Jesus took God’s nature, His very essence and built his kingdom upon it. The one Christian virtue is love.

Jesus commands one thing of us so the question we should seek to answer in everything we do, everything we say is, “What does love require?” It’s all about love. In your job, in your family, what does love require? This is the same as asking, “What would Jesus do?” Jesus was always motivated by love. He has commanded us to love one another even as he has loved us. What does that mean? It means this virtue which Jesus has called us to is unselfish, even sacrificial.

The theology of Christianity is love. Any other theology is empty. It becomes quite easy to understand and explain Christianity when you realize that love is the pinnacle. It is the pillar upon which Jesus built his ministry and his kingdom. The whole of the law, the prophets; the whole of Judeo-Christian philosophy and theory is tied up in this one commandment. Love one another as Jesus first loved us. Christianity, from God’s perspective, requires us to put the needs of others before our own. It requires us to consider what is best for others, instead of ourselves. It forces us to look through another’s eyes and to walk a mile in their shoes. It demands we not be needy and demanding but rather to be compassionate and considerate. The entirety of Christian philosophy and theology, hundreds of years of debate and thought can be boiled down to this one simple question, “What does love require?”

Enemies of Love

Psalm 139: 20

For they speak against Thee wickedly, and Thine enemies take Thy name in vain.

This verse strikes me as outlandish. David is talking with God and says that people speak wickedly against God and that His enemies profane His name. Well, let’s start with speaking against God. We know it is true that people speak against God but honestly, doesn’t that just sound insane? I mean, think about it for a moment, why would anyone do that and what would they say. Then it struck me. Even Christians say horrific things about God. They talk about God making them sick and beating them up. They develop all kinds of theories that sound pretty spiritual but in the end is a bunch of bunk. They speak wickedly against God. And you know what; it makes me kinda crabby to hear it, probably because I used to do the same thing. I thought God was the one that caused my knee injuries and the good Christians I was around at the time said that it would make me stronger. Well, it made me strong alright; so strong and so stone like that there was very little tenderness left. In fact, I was so strong and so fortified that I couldn’t even hear or feel God. Perhaps, it wasn’t God afterall. Why would He do something that would ultimately separate me from Him? Is He stupid? I don’t think so.

And then there is the part where David talks about God’s enemies. Really, God has enemies? Who in their right mind wants to be an enemy of God? You see, the problem here is that we just don’t understand God in the least. God is love. He doesn’t just love people; He is love. You are made up of flesh and bone and He is made of love. So how in the world can anyone be an enemy of love? Okay, that is ridiculous. People get all philosophical about God and reason out all of these wonderful ideas but in the end they end up sounding like idiots because at the base of it all they are speaking against love and it takes an idiot to speak against love. The truth is that they are afraid. They are afraid that some kind of responsibility will fall on them if they acknowledge their father. They may have to start being nice to folks or extending some generosity. Oh heaven, He might ask them to become givers and bless some other people. It is just a fear based philosophy and anything that has its root in fear is corrupt and corrosive. 

I want to be a friend of God and I want people to know that He is nice. Maybe if we talk nice about God people will get a revelation. Perhaps if we demystify God and help people understand that He is here with us and available for a one on one relationship they will see Him as more than a vain philosophy and connect with love. We can pray that love will fill them and minister life and joy to them. I think that would make the world a much nicer place for all people.

Philosophical Luxury

Mark 5: 22 – 23

And one of the synagogue officials named Jairus came up, and upon seeing Him, fell at His feet, and entreated Him earnestly, saying, “My little daughter is at the point of death; please come and lay Your hands on her that she may get well and live.”

I wonder about old Jairus. You know Jesus and the synagogue rulers were not on the best of terms. That makes me wonder where Jairus stood with Jesus before his daughter became ill. I just imagined this morning as I read this passage that he may well have been one of those people who stood in the synagogue courtyard complaining about and criticizing Jesus. I bet those folks had a big time running down Jesus and saying every sort of mean and critical thing. But when the need arises vain philosophies wane. I like to say, “There are no atheists in the oncology ward at the hospital.” While that is not completely true the point is made. Sometimes our philosophies are a luxury that we can no longer afford. 

Inside every human is the knowledge of the truth. Most people know the truth of God in the depths of their soul but they don’t want to acknowledge that truth. When Jairus’ need grew large enough, he pursued the truth and when he did salvation came to his whole household. 

Where does this leave us? If this is true then I think it leads us to establishing an ethic of patient compassion. Perhaps we cannot know all of the reasons people deny the truth but we can be there when their need overwhelms their philosophy. Compassion led Jairus to salvation. Compassion healed his sick daughter. Compassion must then also be our guiding light.

Sometimes when I hear the foolishness which spills out of people’s mouths I am amazed. They go through so many hoops in order to avoid admitting the truth. We can be available to pray when their need arises though and prayer does work. When you pray and their need is satisfied they will begin to understand that the Lord, our God, loves them and will help them. Answers to prayers are not for the saved only. They are a witness to all of the Jairus’s of the world and their kinfolk. Don’t withhold your prayer from the ungodly because it may be your prayer that leads them to eternal life with the Father.