“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” ~John 15:12
Jesus left everything. Jesus considered the glory he had with the Father in heaven nothing. Jesus came to earth to suffer; to be deserted by family and friends; to be ultimately, for a while, even forsaken by God; to be tortured; to be killed like a criminal for you. As lousy as you are. And for me. As lousy as I am.
That’s how the Christ loves us.
And his command—not his suggestion, not his recommendation, not something he said that only makes sense in his culture at his place in time—is that we love each other in the exact same way. John 15:12 and all the other commands to love just like Jesus in that last part of John are not a gray area of debate.
So the question is: are you loving like Jesus? Can you, will you, die for each other?
And we say we’re not called to die. Not in this country. Not in this age. If we were in a different country or living in a different time, maybe I could. But, thankfully, I don’t have to worry about it. Living in America in the 21st century, that’s a concept I don’t even have to consider.
“If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as Christ Jesus.” ~Philippians 2:1-5
Paul goes on to quote from the ancient church hymn that Jesus took on the role, the very nature, of a servant and humbled himself by dying on the cross.
And this is exactly how we die for our brothers and sisters. This is precisely how we die for each other. We die to ourselves. We kill off selfish ambition. We put to death vain conceit. We crucify our own interests. We suffocate those parts of us for each other. Like Jesus in the upper room the night he was betrayed, we have to continually find ways of making ourselves the least important person in the group.
Sign-ups begin this Sunday morning at Legacy as we continue our move from a church that does small groups to a Small Groups Church. And I would ask that we each consider our parts in small groups as our ministries of service to God’s people in the Kingdom. Let’s not choose our groups based on our own needs. Let’s not sign-up according to comfort zones and best friends. Let’s sign-up with hearts of service and ministry for others. How can I serve people? How can I love people? How can I reach lonely and struggling and hurting people with the mercy and grace of Christ? What can I do to put the needs of others over my own? As Peter would say, “To this we were called…”
Jesus did it. And he had more to give up than all of us combined.
The Legacy teens are playing the Legacy family guys in a flag-football extravaganza tomorrow morning at 10:00 on the soccer field north of the building. I’ve always felt like I was a little too old to be in that Sunday morning Young Families Class. But Vic’s presence in there has always comforted me. However, it may be proven tomorrow morning that I really don’t belong with these guys who are ten years younger. By agreeing to play in the game, I’m afraid my brain has written a check my broken down body can’t cash. Like Jon Kitna maybe.
When we moved here this past summer I promised myself I was going to see lots of DFW high school football. And I’ve not seen a single game since the DC debacle at FWC in September. But I’m taking care of that tomorrow by taking in a playoff double-header at Texas Stadium. Hebron’s Hawks are tangling with Abilene, the team that knocked Southlake Carrol out last weekend. My great friend, Billy Whiteley, is the head athletics trainer for Hebron, and I’m anxious to see if they can recapture that state championship magic from two years ago. The second game features Trinity’s Trojans against Arlington Bowie. Lots of our Legacy kids here go to Trinity and so I’ll have a rooting interest in both games. But I refuse to do the Haka. Hocca? Hawka?