I attended my first Gracepoint service in six months today. It was great to be back — to soak in the warmth of good friends that I have not seen for a while was really invigorating. Our pastor Owen gave a fantastic talk on the way we should show love to one another, drawing from 1 John 2:3-14. The talk is particularly relevant given the resolutions that I have made re helping other people and giving money.
Here are the key passages mentioned in the talk:
4 Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. 5 But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: 6 Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did. (1 John 2:4-6)
34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35)
How are we to “be” Christian? How do we determine our godliness? Is it through meticulous personal habits, devoted service, dutifully attending church every week? Maybe. Motives play a big part of course. Are you (and am I) doing X or Y because we feel guilty, because we feel obligated, because it will make us look and/or feel good?
Owen said something that I feel really hit the nail on the head. The greatest evidence that we are disciples of Jesus is the love we show to one another, as Jesus loved us. That seems pretty broad doesn’t it? I suppose, but I think we all know ways in which we can show love. What I find amazing are those final four words.
They obliterate all doubts as to motive and intention. How did Jesus love us? Completely. Unconditionally. Humbly. Irrespective of our status. Earlier in John 13, Jesus gets down to wash his disciples’ feet, which encapsulates his love pretty well.
For me, the problem is not finding ways of showing love but doing it as Jesus loved us. I love discriminately, I decide who I want to love based on that person’s positive characteristics and how much that person contributes to my own well-being. Self-regard typifies my actions.
So I know what the problem is, but here’s the kicker. Why do I want to volunteer and help the less fortunate? Part of the reason is I am taking Jesus’ message to heart — I want to show love to others. Another part, admittedly, is pride. I’ve told myself (and others) how much I want to help people but infuriatingly I’ve never acted upon that desire. This is a chance to prove to myself that I can. Self-regard kicks in again.
Will human beings ever be able to act with pure intentions? Cynics will say no. I am reserving my judgment for the time being…