Let’s Lead With Love
There is a story I once heard that exemplifies the idea of love and loyalty (putting someone else’s needs before your own). The story was written down by a man named David Needham. It is one that made me wonder, in our age of texting and social media, if there were “text-ese” (or SMS language) for Crying Out Loud. This is one of those stories that gave me a reaction of compassion that welled up inside me the same way the response of laughter can just burst forth. It was told like this:
There is a true story of a little boy whose sister needed a blood transfusion. The doctor explained that she had the same disease the boy had recovered from two years earlier. Her only chance of recovery was a transfusion from someone who had previously conquered the disease. Since the two children had the same rare blood type, the boy was an ideal donor.
“Would you give your blood to Mary?” the doctor asked.
Johnny hesitated. His lower lip started to tremble. Then he smiled and said, “Sure, for my sister.”
Soon the two children were wheeled into the hospital room. Mary, pale and thin, Johnny, robust and healthy. Neither spoke, but when their eyes met, Johnny grinned.
As the nurse inserted the needle into his arm, Johnny’s smile faded. He watched the blood flow through the tube.
With the ordeal almost over, Johnny’s voice, slightly shaky, broke the silence.
“Doctor, when do I die?”
Only then did the doctor realize why Johnny had hesitated, why his lip had trembled when he agreed to donate his blood. He thought giving his blood to his sister would mean giving up his life. In that brief moment, he had made his great decision.
This young boy was willing to give up his own life to save his sister. That’s heroic. That…is love.
I am a big proponent of the desires of my children’s hearts. Even though sometimes they break things or cause harm to our family, if their motives are pure…if they intended to bless their mother, or build up their sibling, or in this case give up their own life (the boy believed that to be the reality, and went along with it anyway) for someone else, I do my best to respond to their heart, rather than the practical outcome.
This is love that most of us can understand, and that can even cause compassion to well up inside of us. Yet, how many times do we feel compelled and compassionate about these situations with children only to respond to our spouse, or our neighbor, or (dare I say it) a brother or sister at church with skepticism and accusation? Aren’t we all children, anyway?
Right after He calls His listeners “little children” (a term perhaps not only affectionate or as colloquial as we first think it to be), Jesus says in John 15:34, “A new commandment I give to you , that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” This statement comes conspicuously right after Jesus identified Judas, one of His closest friends, as the one who would betray Him (v. 26).
Jesus’ command to love one another comes conspicuously right after He identified Judas, one of his closest friends, as the one who would betray Him.
So why do we feel that another person’s actions or age make us exempt from the command to love them? It is amazing to me how much grace I can have for a child, and yet how harsh and unloving I can be to a “grown up” whom I deem as one who should know better. Jesus’ command to love one another does not come with a qualifier of any kind. It does not seem to be a matter of whether or not I deem the “one another” worthy of my love. Jesus just said to love one another. He then goes on to say, in the next verse, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” It seems that this verse is especially potent when others don’t deserve our love.
Jesus’ command to love one another does not come with a qualifier of whether or not I deem the “one another” worthy of my love.
The theme of love in the Apostle John’s life permeates his writings. Not only did he refer to himself as “the disciple that Jesus loved” in the gospel that bears his name, but all three of his letters toward the end of the Bible are saturated with the priority of the command to love one another, and by the example of this love that John himself leaves. (Not to mention that he, too, refers to his audience as little children.) Even in the book of Revelation, John can’t go six verses without mentioning the love of Christ and the freedom He has brought to us by forgiving our sins. In this, I think there is a clue. One of the reasons, I believe, that John could have so much affection and love for those to whom he is writing – even the ones who were undeserving – is that he truly understood the love the Father had given to him through Jesus Christ.
“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are…” (1 John 3:1).
When “the disciple that Jesus loved” says this, the word he uses to begin this thought is not simply an invitation to pass your eyes over something. The original Greek is transliterated horaō, which brings the idea of not only seeing with the eyes, but seeing with the mind; perceiving; knowing it. Along with those meanings, it also has the connotation of become acquainted with through experience, as well as to take heed, beware, and to care for. There is a personal piece to this word, as if to say: “I saw,” or “this appeared, and I showed myself.” John is saying, “Know this. I have become acquainted with it, and you, too, will benefit greatly from experiencing it.” In other places this word is translated: Behold!
How often do you behold (appropriately stare at) the fact that God, the creator of everything we know – even the inventor of our ability to know – has loved us so much that He sees us with the natural love and grace of a parent to a child? He has declared that we should be called His children! Not only that, but He is so awesome that He has also created, in us, this natural love to which He can refer when expressing this revolutionary love. God has created an object lesson of love inside each of us, through our natural affections toward family and children. What He is asking is that we also share this love with one another.
God has created an object lesson of love inside of each of us, through our natural affections toward family and children. What He is asking is that we also share this love with one another.
I confess that I am often distracted by how another’s actions have affected me, or how I have burnt my candle at both ends, and I allow the perception of my own capacity to seem too small to expend the energy it would take to lead with love.
Love takes time. Love is often not the easy path. This kind of love is not what the world expects…or even deserves, and yet Jesus commands us to love like He did. Remember, we don’t deserve His love either.
This kind of love is not what the world expects…or even deserves, and yet Jesus commands us to love like He did. Remember, we don’t deserve His love either.
John exemplifies this in his desire to speak to those he is writing to face to face (2 John 12 & 3 John14) rather than simply writing them text, as well as his salutations to those “whom I love in truth…” (2 John 1 & 3 John 1). The affections with which John speaks to the early church, identifying himself as: “the elder,” or “the disciple that Jesus loved,” is a great example to us that self-promotion and self-love are not the love that Jesus is talking about when He commands us to love…it is the “one another” that is the important part of this command.
Self-promotion and self-love are not the love that Jesus is talking about when He commands us to love…it is the “one another” that is the important part of this command.
Are you passing along, especially to those who are part of the “family of God,” this revolutionary love that the Father has given to us? Or do you find yourself, as I often do, in need of a little more time staring into the fact that the creator of the Rocky Mountains, which firmly stand within view of my window, loves you with the same affection with which He loves His only Son, our brother and Savior Jesus Christ? The one who said, “Sure, for my sister,” knowing full-well what that sacrifice would truly mean for both Himself, and for you?
Let’s spend some time this week staring into, beholding the manner of love the Father has lavished upon us!
Copyright © 2022 Ricky Cassford. All rights reserved.