Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Five Stories - Part II

“Love one another”. As I sit here this afternoon, in my favorite corner of Starbucks, these words echo in my mind over and over again. I read them in the pages of my Bible (John 13:34 & 35), but as with many words of Scripture, they seem to slip in one ear and out the other. I’ve read and studied this passage dozens of times, but what does it really mean to love one another? I mean, I can say that I love the guy sitting next to me who is consistently bumping my chair, or the loud and obnoxious women across the room, or the iced coffee that I’m drinking, but where is the line drawn between words and actions? When is love really expressed as genuine love? What if I don’t particularly want to love someone? What if I can’t, even though Christ commands me to? (John 13:34) Love the unlovable? Love those I don’t know? Love my enemies? Those that have hurt me?

The second person of “Five Stories”, sat a few tables from me. He was a man that I had seen a number of times in Starbucks, and in my neighborhood, and was talking with someone else about his realty business. As the conversation moved to more personal topics, he began to share how he was beginning to realize that life’s BIG adventures might be as simple as drinking a cup of coffee while watering his flowers early in the morning. His Dad died recently and he watched him work until he was 70 years old, never really seeming to enjoy his life to the fullest. He doesn’t want this to happen to him, and feels God is leading him to slow down and enjoy each moment of life. From listening to his words and the inflection in his voice, it is obvious that he gets it. He is content with his life and is learning more about his relationship with God every day.

As I watched this man, and his interaction with his friend, I felt myself having compassion for him. I could feel something deeper than just observing a stranger, but there was somewhat of a connection with him. Even though I was uninvited to listen in on this little segment of his life, I felt as if I was joining him in his journey of life; if only for a few moments. He had no idea that I was connecting with him, but on some spiritual level, we were connected. Was this “love” that I was feeling for this stranger? The way in which God intends us to love one another? And as my mind meditated on his story, was the love of God being expressed in my concern for him?

The author of the Gospel of John was called “the disciple whom Jesus loved”, and as you read through the words of his gospel account, you get a sense of why he was singled out among the other eleven disciples and given this title. His words take you into a deeper understanding of the humanity of Christ and the fullness and complexity of His emotions moreso than the other three gospels. In his first letter of the New Testament, John speaks quite a bit about the concept of love. In fact, he draws one of the most significant and simplistic parallels to God that has ever been written: God is love. “God is love”. “Love one another”. Are we able to put some pieces together here?

I don’t think that John was merely talking about one of God’s many attributes or actions. Rather in His love, we see the complete embodiment of who God is, culminating in the death of His Son, Jesus Christ. The ultimate sacrifice. The ultimate expression of love. Maybe being extensions of God’s love is more than just saying we “love” others. Maybe in order to really love one another, we must first be intimately connected to the one who is the essence of love. And as God dwells within us, His love pours out from us as we submit to Him completely. Let’s face it. Some people are impossible to love through our own power and actions. Yes, Christ commands us to love one another, but it seems to me that if God is love, and we are called to love one another, maybe it has less to do with our feelings or actions. Maybe it has nothing to do with us at all, and our expressions of love are simply the revelation of God to the world.

"Love one another".

1 comment:

MS said...

"Lord, grant me the ability to do what you have commanded."

No more so than with love, as you've noted.

JK, a latte sure sounds good.