A question that we all seem to struggle with at one time or another is “What is love?” What does it look like? What are its shapes and contours? And what will love prompt us to do?
That’s a question that Christians have to struggle with as well. We claim to be a people who serve a loving God. We’d go so far as to say that God Himself is love. And yet, for many people, Christians and Christianity is seen as being extremely unloving. They say that we are harsh and judgmental, critical and cold. In short, the world sees us as unloving.
But the Christian way is one of love. This is what Jesus says in John’s Gospel:
This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.
What is love? Jesus defines it for us. He calls us to love one another, but to love them the way that He loved us first. That means loving those deemed unlovable by the world around us, the same way that Jesus loved the outcasts and sinners of His time.
But that also means loving them enough to call them out of their sinful brokenness. Love is not simply blind acceptance of a person with all of their faults. True, Christ-like love seeks transformation in the person being loved. It’s not enough to leave them in darkness. Love seeks to draw them out, to call them to a better way. Think of how Jesus loved the woman caught in adultery. He didn’t condemn her. He met her in the midst of her sin. But He didn’t leave her there. Instead, He urged her to leave her sin behind, to let the love she encountered in Him transform her.
Most of all, though, we see that the love Christ calls us to is self-sacrificing. That is how much God loved us. Christ sacrificed Himself on the cross to save us. He laid down His life in service for us all. He says it Himself, there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for a friend.
When Jesus gives us this commandment, to love one another, He not only gives us the command, He gives us the example. Love compels us to meet everyone around us where they are with Christ’s transformative love, giving of ourselves the way that Christ gave of Himself. May you show love today, this week, and throughout your life!