Love One Another
by Rich Bregitzer
(St. Louis, MO)
John 13:34, 35
34A new commandment I give unto you, That you love one another; as I have loved you, so you should also love one another.
35By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another.
Prayer – Dear God, we ask your blessing on the examination of your Word and those of us who hear it this day. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
So, what does this verse have to do with Advent/Christmas message
This is Sunday we lift up joy as an aspect of Advent
Next week we are having a special service and we’ll not cover the last aspect of the holiday which is love
So, we are going to sort of tackle both today because I believe God takes great joy (as should we) when we love one another.
Not just with gift giving at the holidays, but always.
So, with that said let’s talk about love
Watching football with the guys
Commercial comes on with a certain attractive female celebrity
The room got quiet
And one of the single guys says “I love her”
I think that what he meant had little to do with love
Perhaps more to do with lust
Or the fact that he found her pleasant to look at
HOW SOCIETY LOVES
That friend was echoing one of the more commonly held ideas of love
Which is that love is a feeling
He saw the woman
And was smitten
And suddenly he is in love; in the passive tense
WHAT IS PASSIVE LOVE?
Passive love is an emotional state where we are bent on wanting to feel good
Not so concerned with making others feel good
Your single friend comes over
With a big dumb smile and tells you about the blind date
She was attractive, funny, smart
And then he says it “He is in love”
What he is really saying is that he likes the way this person makes him feel
That, in a nutshell, is passive love
Tells us to love one another
It says that if we are disciples
Which is to say Christians
That we are not behaving as such
Unless we love one another
What do you have against your brother?
You have ceased behaving like a Christian if you have failed to love them.
BUT HOW DO YOU LOVE ANOTHER? HOW DO YOU LOVE ACTIVELY RATHER THAN PASSIVELY?
Marriage is the best example of active love
There are others, but marriages seem to be the best
When I am in the planning stages of a wedding with a couple
I, at some point, tell them I don’t do divorces
In other words I won’t give you counsel that okay’s divorce
I may sympathize with you…because I care about you
But at no point, other than for marital unfaithfulness (Matt. 5:32) will I tell you that divorce is okay.
Because true love is more than an emotional state
And it’s more than a wishy-washy passive commitment
HERE IS THE BIBLICALLY GROUNDED MINISTER’S POINT OF VIEW ON LOVE, AS INSPIRED BY DR. JAY ADAMS. WE’LL USE MARRIAGE AS AN EXAMPLE AGAIN, BUT WHAT I WILL RELAY IN THIS STORY COULD JUST AS EASILY HOLD TRUE FOR SIBLINGS OR FRIENDS OR THE PERSON SITTING BY YOU IN THE NEXT PEW:
A man deeply troubled by failing marriage
Visited his minister for pastoral counsel
The man said love have exited from his marriage
He was considering divorce
He had come to the pastor wondering if the marriage could be saved
The minister tells him the Bible says that husbands must love their wives
Therefore it is your Christian obligation to go home and start loving your wife
The man was shocked
How can I do that?
That is the very problem
I don’t love my wife anymore
That’s why I want out
Can’t you give me better advice than that?
The minister tried a different approach
Why don’t you try a separation
One of you move into the place next door or somewhere in the neighborhood
Do that a few weeks and see if it helps
The man was growing impatient now
Why would I do that? How can that help?
The minister said “Doesn’t God command us to love our neighbors?
Perhaps if you lived next-door a neighbor for awhile you’d learn to love her again
The man groaned
You’re not getting it
It’s not that the fire has burned out; its that I can’t stand being around the woman
So, you’re feeling hostile towards her…is that it? Maybe feeling like she is the enemy
Bingo! Reverend, now you’re getting it
Then, said the minister, let me remind you
God commands us to love our enemies
Completely frustrated the man walked away.
How can one argue with a minister like that
And how can one argue with God?
When God tells us, in fact commands, us as Christians to love one another.
He hasn’t asked us for our reasoning or excuses
He is expecting our obedience
But we, as a society, fail to put in the work that needs to be done when we don’t feel good about it anymore.
We want something tangible to come from our attempts
When all along love is not a noun to be possessed, but a verb to be practiced
Its concerned more with doing than feeling
It is defined by action
WHAT ABOUT THE WARM FUZZIES?
As you active engage in loving others that may or may not include warm feelings of affection
When affection is present, that’s a bonus
But loving others and being loved does not necessarily mean those wamr fuzzy feelings will be experienced
Our real trouble in understanding love comes from how society has ruined it
The love God requires a husband to show his wife
Takes it cue from the example Jesus gave us
By showing us how he loves the church
Christ’s love was shown to us by his sacrifice on the cross
Husbands take that cue
And “Give themselves” to their wives
The church takes that cue
And “gives of itself” to those in need
The brother follows that example and helps his brother
Love then is no longer about what I can get or how good I can feel
It’s about sacrifice; what can I do for another
When we practice charity or support a charity we do so by giving
Of our time, talent or treasures
The Elizabethan’s translated the word love to the word “Charity”
And that is beautiful
Because “charity” calls to mind a link between actively loving and sacrificial giving
ALL FOR LOVE AND LOVE FOR ALL
I’d encourage you to love extravagantly
To engage in loving your spouse by showing that love
With senseless brutal acts of kindness
I’d also point out though that love we possess should not be for a select few
We should not just love within the confines of our little social circles
Note that in this verse Jesus does not get specific
He does not say an you love them
Or children love your parents
He says if you love Me, then love one another
If you are truly a Christian who loves Christ that is proven by how you love others
Not just a set group
Jesus has loved us all
And calls us to love all as well…to do just as he has done
Maintaining a loving demeanor is not an easy thing to do
Things happen that can cause a hardening of the heart
The trick is to practice those things that keep you acting from out of God’s love
Read your Bible
Seek the good of others
Don’t let the progress of time cause you to stop loving
An older couple are driving down the highway
On their way to a family Christmas party
Another car passed them.
The woman notices the occupants of the other car are young
Obviously in love.
The girl is sitting very close to her boyfriend as they cruise down the highway.
This causes the woman to think back to when she and her husband were young and in love
Wonders where the show of affection is after all the years.
She asks her husband, "Remember when we used to be like that young couple?
Where did the love go, honey?"
He quietly replied, "I haven't moved...."
If you need to ask “Where is the love?”
Don’t forget to ask yourself how you have changed.
Because God is the same. Still loves you and still wants you to love others.
And not just on special occasions
Such as Advent/Christmas, but always.