Try to imagine: You get a call from Jesus. (Or maybe a text.) He’s in town for a few hours, and he’d like to stop by your house for a cup of tea to discuss an assignment He has for you.
Wow. The Teacher is dropping by to see you. You have never seen him, but you’ve pledged your life to follow Him. The one with power to defeat Satan’s plans, the one who laid open the way for you to come to God … He wants to talk with YOU, face-to-face, to give you an assignment.
He settles into your couch with his cup of tea and says, “You know, I only spent a few years as a man on this earth. I accomplished my mission then, but now my disciples must continue the ministry. People need to be reconciled to God. So here’s what I want you to do: I want you to love others just the way I love you.”
Yes! A personal assignment from Jesus Christ. You determine to throw your life into it.
So to love as Christ did, you need to know who and how to love.
God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. (Romans 5:8 NLT)
But to those who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. (Luke 6:27-28)
Sinners and enemies. In Jesus’ time, that would mean … the oppressive government, prostitutes, lepers who were outcasts, religious hypocrites, thieves, men who cheated when collecting taxes, greedy people, abusive people, those who worshipped other gods, ones who cursed God, those with an agenda opposed to God’s people … Hello? Does it sound familiar?
Jesus’ command to love as He did forces us to take a second look at how we respond to everything going on in the world around us, to societal issues, politics, wars.
But then, closer to home, there’s the neighbor who seems to be on a mission of his own, and that mission is to make your life miserable. There’s the coworker who ridicules you. There’s the rebellious child who says she hates you, the man who has cheated you, the friend who betrayed your trust, the woman in church who …
You begin to see, to feel, the difficulties of loving as Christ loves.
But that is what we are commanded to do. We were not brought into God’s family only to be saved. We also became part of a mission, the mission of reconciling people to God who loves them.
That mission is fueled only if the love of Christ works in us.
Next: How do we love?