Spiritual Connection Devotion
Love One Another As I Have Loved You
by Kelly Claudon
I hope that today is a good day for you.
I shared with some friends last night that this been a bit of odd-feeling week for me. Not a bad week, just an odd week. It’s been a heavy week, a wearing week.
The news of the circumstances of the death of Ahmaud Abery was heavy. The continuing uncertainty, which may be greater now than when all this started, is heavy. Trying to figure out how we return to life and what normal will look like is heavy. Waiting on decisions to be made, trying to be patient. Trying to figure out, in this current normal, how to go on with life. It is hard. It is harder for some than for others to be sure, but it is wearing on us all.
This doesn’t mean that we don’t have good days. We do. It just sometimes feels like there’s a heaviness from all of this.
But that’s life, isn’t it? There are challenges happening all around us and within our own lives all of the time.
Whether we’re experiencing a pandemic or not. It’s made a bit more complicated because of the pandemic, but it’s still life. And as people who claim to follow Jesus, we experience no exception to these difficulties.
I always like to remind myself and others that God loves us all, whether we love God or not. But as Jesus followers, we have received that love into our lives. Living in the fullness of that love means living into the realities of our limitations as humans and our need of God. It means living into the reality of understanding that we were created in the image of God and, therefore, bear God’s image to the world around us. According to scripture all of mankind was made in God’s image because God desired relationship with all, not just those of us who profess belief. And not just those who believe as we do. It’s a big deal to be made in the image of God. It’s a big deal that God wanted to entrust that to us.
I wish everyone could trust that within themselves, but because that is not yet the case, it is important that those of us who live knowingly in the grace of bearing God’s image are especially aware of how we do that. And Jesus said we should do that through love. By loving God with all of our hearts our souls and our minds and that we should love our neighbors as ourselves. Arguably, I think this concept of loving God and loving each other had supreme importance to Jesus. In his gospel, John records in the 14th chapter, that on the last night of his life Jesus gave a new command, “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.”
People need to feel loved, to feel valued, to feel known and amazingly God put a bunch of people here on earth to share that. Those people are called the church, or more appropriately, the Body of Christ. And, here’s the thing about that body, once you’re a part of it, then that command about loving others as we have been loved becomes real. People will meet Jesus and have contact with him over and over based on how we live. Whether those people are in our homes, in our families, at our workplace, the stores that we shop, or any number of the other places that we go. Whether they are Republican, Democrat, Independent. Whether they are black, white, brown, red, or any other color of skin. Whether they are young, old, employed, or unemployed. Whether they wear a mask or don’t. Jesus didn’t say “Love each other if…”, he said, “Love each other as I have loved you”.
And there’s the part that makes it possible, even if it doesn’t seem easy. “As I have loved you”. That is where we begin: with how Jesus has loved us.
If, as the old hymn suggests, “I turn my eyes upon Jesus and look into his wonderful face, the things of this world will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace.”
When I look at Jesus, when I focus my heart and my mind on Jesus, I remember that Jesus loves me enough to forgive the parts of me that do not agree with what he would do or say.
I remember that Jesus loves me enough to sit with me in my pain and not to heap criticism on me.
I remember that Jesus loves me enough to listen to what I have to say, even when they are words so filled hurt, anger, and pain,
I remember that Jesus loves me enough to forgive me for the times that I have chosen out of my own self-interest.
I remember that Jesus loves me enough when my pride takes hold and I think a little more of myself than I should.
I remember that Jesus loves me enough when I forget that not everyone has the same access to resources that I do and when I judge them from my own place of privilege.
I remember that Jesus loves me enough to forgive me when I respond out of jealousy and entitlement.
I remember that Jesus loved me enough to pursue me even when I had no interest in Jesus.
I remember that in all things, Jesus loves me enough, loves you enough, and loves others enough.
Love One Another as I have loved you.
When we focus on the love Jesus has for us and we realize that we have done nothing to deserve that, then we are better able to love as we have been loved. That is the body of Christ. It is empowered and made whole, not by us, but by the love of Jesus himself.
So as we are heading into the weekend, in whatever that looks like for you, I pray that you will remember that you are the image-bearer of God who is love. That God loves you and that God’s love lives within you so that you may reflect that love, that glory, that grace to others and that they will know they are loved, valued, and known by God too.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.”