Thursday, November 14, 2013

Love One Another - Part I

In an attempt to break a writing slump, I began a discussion that I had hoped would morph into a blog, documenting the essence of the proposed topic. I love asking questions and listening to the various responses that develop. So to begin this endeavor, I simply asked several people to express what it meant to them personally to "love one another". (John 13:34) in 2-3 sentences. I wasn't looking for deep theological dissertations or even much contemplative thought. Rather, I was interested to find out what people thought in a more off-the-cuff manner. I asked a wide and varied group of people; some well known and like myself, not so well known. The response was so positive that what originally began as a one time blog, is now turning out to be a series of blogs and possibly a video response from one contributor.
I've always been somewhat perplexed by this verse. This is literally the only "command" that Jesus declares, and while we have no problem going into all the world and preaching the gospel, baptizing each other in the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit, or doing this in memory of Him, when it comes to loving one another, we seem to have interpreted this to simply be a suggestion. We pick and choose who we love and when it comes to loving our enemies, well let's just say that's another discussion altogether. Loving one another is not easy, but could part of the problem be that we simply misinterpret what it means to "love one another"? I'll share my take at the end of this series, but let's see what others had to say. Connect with contributors by clicking on each name.

“A genuine love towards one another is in fact is attainable. It is valuing the entire person, all strengths & faults, knowing that they make up the uniqueness of their soul. I refer to this degree of love as universal or Christ-driven. A powerful teaching from Brother Christ.”

- Br. Richard LeFevre 
Life Enrichment Instructor, Owner of The Welness Vortex, Professed Novice - Order of Ecumenical Franciscans  

“To truly love someone is to turn all the energy and impulses for self-preservation towards the other, relinquishing the right to place oneself as the central focus and directing it towards the other. Loving someone means that we are free from the fear of death, from the fear of not being important, having enough or fulfilling our desires, liberated so that we celebrate the divine image in the other. True love is so selfless that it's baseline measure is love of enemy.”

- Jamie Arpin-Ricci  
Pastor of Little Flower Community, Co-Director of YWAM Urban Minstries Winnipeg and author of The Cost of Community: Jesus, St. Francis and Life in the Kingdom 

“It's all about being created in the image of God. Then our call to "die to self" means to "love the other." The most difficult challenge of the Gospel is this profound trust in the image of God in the other to be doing the same, the same dying to self, so that we, the image of God, The Other and the other, may be loved with God's own love.” 

Tripp Hudgins is a PhD student at Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California; a preaching pastor, Baptist cantor, liturgiologist, ecumenist, writer of articles, ethnomusicologist (hon.), and grateful husband. His work is an exploration of sonic theology, mandodoxy, found objects (such as grace, time, timbre, or other holy scrap), and some good old fashioned sangin’. He blogs at

“To me loving one another stems from the core of realizing that God unconditionally loves us. As I recognize even a glimpse of the truth of that He loves me despite my failures, my complaining, my times of straying from what I know is right that I am loved as His child, it then effects how I view other people. It is a deep motivating factor to then want to love others unconditionally. It isn't easy as it then means taking time. Love is expressed so much in time as a quantifying factor in many ways. In addition to the emotion of it loving my wife means doing the dishes. For my daughters it means pushing them on the swing even when I am pushed-out and don't want to push them one more time. For extra-grace-needed folks you meet it may mean talking and listening to someone who God brings your way. Loving others unfolds naturally every day as I remember that God loves me and then I want to express that love to others. That sounds simple, but that is what comes to mind as I think of trying to define it without just quoting some of the "love one another" verses which are beautiful to read and also a motivating reminder.”

Pastor of Vintage Faith Church in Santa Cruz, Calf., author of Adventures In Churchland: Finding Jesus In The Mess Of Organized Religion, They Like Jesus But Not The Church, Emerging Worship and The Emerging Church.

“To me loving one another means loving each other the way Jesus loved us. He loved us when it was hard. He loved us when we were difficult. He loved us when we didn't deserve it. We tend to be good at liking each other, but not as good at loving one another.”

– Matt Neely
Founding pastor of The Watershed Church in League City, Texas  

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