Sunday, November 28, 2010

Loved People, Love People. (HP/HP, LP/LP Part 4)

So here it is…the last installment of Hurt People, Hurt People. Loved People, Love People. Here are parts 1, 2 & 3 (PART 1, PART 2, PART 3). For me, this whole last year has been SO much about what it means to love people. Do I always do it well? Nope, but I realize I don’t and I seek Christ to change that in me. I’m a work in progress…

So in original blog (HERE) I said,

“In John 15:12 Jesus says, ‘My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.’ Jesus was telling us that the way He loved us was an example of how He expected us to love each other. If you are truly the recipient of Christ's love, you WILL love others.”

As I’ve thought about (and I’ve had 4 ½ months since the original post to do so) I found myself asking, How did He love them? What were the things that Jesus did that we could follow after Him in doing; things that proved our love the way He did?

So in John 15:13, Jesus said, “There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friends.” I'm fairly certain that what Jesus meant was that the greatest love is displayed in the laying down of one’s life for a friend. The idea being that true love for another means that you would literally do ANYTHING (even die) for that person. The point is that Jesus willingly laid down His life for those he loved (us). If we love Jesus we have to be willing to do the same for Him and by proxy for those He loves (everyone else). For the record, it’s not a foreign idea…thousands of people have laid down their lives for the sake of Christ. So this is what Jesus said about true love. BUT, He didn’t just say it; He followed it up with action.

The fact is you can say whatever you want, but if your actions don’t support it, it’s pointless and meaningless. There are three parts to the events leading up to and after Jesus’ crucifixion that, I think, displays the depth of His love for us and that I think are examples meant for us to follow.

The first were the pre-crucifixion events. The arrest, the poor excuse for what was called a trial and His walk up the hill in which He would pay our penalty. During that entire time Jesus was whipped, punched, slapped, spit on, had His beard torn out and beaten beyond being recognizable as a human. He was utterly humiliated. And He did it for us. At any time He could have ended the torture, after all…He’s God…but He chose not to. Instead He willingly endured humiliation for our sake. With that said, how much humiliation are you willing to endure for Christ? How much will you be humbled for the sake of your Savior? Looking at it deeper, how much will you allow that to translate to those people you say you love? Are you willing to be humiliated for the community that God has placed you in simply because you love them? Christ did and I have to believe that He expects the same from us. After all, where would we be if He’d have said enough?

The second is His willing surrender to the cross. I think I’ve already made that point. Actually, Jesus did. He said, (paraphrasing), “You show the depth of your love for your friends by what you’re willing to do for them and frankly I love you all to the point that I WILL die for you.” Then He did. The greatest display of God’s justice is seen at the cross, but in it we also see the greatest act of love. It’s the willingness of our savior to lay down His life as a ransom for ours simply because He couldn’t bear to be without us.

The last act has to do with His ascension. In John 16:7, Jesus said, “But in fact, it is best for you that I go away, because if I don’t, the Advocate won’t come. If I do go away, then I will send him to you.” Jesus was telling the Disciples that He was leaving them in order that the Holy Spirit could come. Jesus followed this up by explaining why it was necessary for the Holy Spirit to come. He said (v. 8-11), “And when he comes, he will convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment. The world’s sin is that it refuses to believe in me. Righteousness is available because I go to the Father, and you will see me no more.” In essence, Jesus knew that in order for God to do what He need to, in the Disciples and throughout the world, He had to leave. He told them that if He didn’t leave the Holy Spirit wouldn’t come. And because of His love for them (and us) and His deep desire for God’s will for us, He willingly departed from us and ascended into heaven. How does this translate to how we love others?

There are times that in giving to someone else we block the presence of God. I once had a friend tell me (in reference to giving to a person that is obviously taking advantage of your desire to be Christ to them) that there is a threshold in which you are able to give to a person and they are still able to see Christ. But eventually, there comes a point where they no longer see Christ working through you, but rather only see you. It is at that point that it is essential that you step out of the way of God and allow the Holy Spirit to do His work. Sometimes stepping aside for the moment is the best way to love someone. You have to ask yourself, “Do I love them enough to step out of the way and allow God to do what He needs to do in them?” If the answer is “Yes” then move.

But you don’t just leave them. There will come a point that, if you truly love them, you step back into their life…you have to. The Holy Spirit will make it evident when that time is. The point of stepping back into their life is to be community for them. To encourage that person in the work the Holy Spirit has done in them. Jesus even set that before us. In John 16:16 He said, “In a little while you won’t see me anymore. But a little while after that, you will see me again.” Jesus was saying that even though He had to leave, so the Holy Spirit could do His work, a time would come when the Holy Spirit has completed that work and Jesus would return. That’s our example.

Loved people, Love People. It all comes back to the idea that people that are actively receiving the love of Christ just love people. They are compelled to; it’s their nature and character. The bottom line is this, words are meaningless without action. If you love Christ and others, you have to willingly lay down your life for Him/them (that is do WHATEVER you need to do to prove that love), you have to be willing to be humiliated for His/their sake, you have to be willing to step out of the Holy Spirits way to allow Him to work in their lives, all the while looking for that prompting to step back in and encourage them in the work He’s done in them.

In Him,