Last time we got together, I made this statement: “God loves us so He can love others through us. That’s His purpose.” And I said,” Jesus gave us many commands. He summarized them in one command: “Love one another.” (See “The Acid Test”)
Did you buy that? Is that true? If it is, does that mean the Beatles were right when they sang:
“It’s easy… All you need is love… (ya ta da da da…) Love is all you need…”
And if you think John the Apostle and John Lennon were on the same page, think again. There is a vast difference between the feel-good and be-nice kind of love behind the Beatles’ lyric (and most other pop songs) and what Jesus commanded us to practice. Jesus’ idea of love put a new, radical twist on an old command. That’s why John wrote:
Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining. (1 John 2:7-8 )
The old command, the one “you have had since the beginning,” came right out of the earliest writings of the Old Testament: “… love your neighbor as yourself.” (Leviticus 19:18b). But this old command was made new, radically new, when explained and demonstrated by Jesus. John says you can see that new understanding, that new truth in Jesus. How?
Jesus made “love your neighbor as yourself” new by comparing it to and combining it with “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength,” and declaring these intertwined commands to be the foundation of all the teachings of the Bible.
All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:40)
But Jesus also made this old command new by His teaching and His example. Love, He taught, is a choice to put aside what I want in order to minister to what you need. A simple example might be for me to love you, by setting aside my desire to express anger and frustration, so that I can give you the opportunity to be understood. Simple, but not so simple, right? Jesus taught the most extreme example of that kind of love:
Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13)
This new, radical form of love, is not the sappy idea the Beatles were singing about. It is not “easy,” as they sang. This new understanding of love was demonstrated most fully in Jesus’ choice to endure a bloody, violent death, so that you and I could live!
But what does John mean when he says that “its truth is seen in Him and you“? Chew on that. See if you can figure it out and we’ll take it up next time.