An Expanded View of Love

Life Notes—February 14, 2013 

“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another.  Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.” 

John 13:34

I have heard of organizations with a one sentence policy manual.  It reads something like “Do the right thing.”  At my company, our policy manual requires hundreds of pages to define doing the right thing.  The Old Testament lists 613 laws for the Jewish people to follow in order to be obedient to God.  Thankfully, the New Testament gives us one, “To love one another.”  Simple?  Well, maybe not so much.  Today is Valentine’s Day and not unlike the laws of old, our celebrations have become complicated, expensive and ritualistic—cards, candy, balloons, flowers, jewelry, dinner and the like.  We are told if we really love someone we will do these things for them—at least on this one day of the year.  But is that really our highest expression of love?

Obviously, there are many types and expressions of love.  Romantic love, plutonic love, brotherly love—to name a few.  But Jesus didn’t distinguish different types of love.  Healing, teaching and affirming were Jesus’ primary expressions of love.  Elsewhere in the Gospels Jesus says the greatest commandment is to love God, followed by loving our neighbor as our self.  When asked who qualifies as a neighbor, Jesus tells the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), where a traveler comes upon an injured man and pays to have his injuries tended to.   For Jesus, love is about providing what we are able to our neighbors in need.  Like the policy manual above, love is doing the right thing.

In order to do the right thing we must be aware of the condition of those around us.  We must be intentionally conscious of family members, friends, neighbors, even strangers on the street.  An expression of love might be as simple as a card or a phone call to let someone know we’re thinking of and/or praying for them.  Or it might be as all-consuming as dedicating one’s life to digging wells in a third world country.  In between the two extremes are endless expressions of love that will make someone else’s life better.  The key to love is our service to another.  Love requires action, not necessarily emotion. We have all been given specific gifts and talents, and there is a corresponding need for every one of them.  When we offer our gifts to God with open eyes and open hands, God will match them with a need.  However, for those of us with a romantic ‘other,’ cards, flowers or candy are still the safest expressions—at least for today!

This Sunday is the first Sunday of Lent, where the six-week journey to Easter begins.  The youth lead worship downtown, where Life worship is at 10:00 in Brady Hall and traditional worship is at 8:30 and 11:00.  Mitch preaches at the west campus where worship is at 9:00 and 11:00. His sermon is “Give Up Something Bad for Lent.”

Come home to church this Sunday.  Perhaps it’s time to reassess how and who we love…

Greg Hildenbrand, Life Music Coordinator

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