I was recently sitting in a restaurant reading John chapters 14-17, looking closely at the verses where Jesus tells us to love one another with the kind of love Father, Son, and Spirit have in the perichoretic union. Then a person walks in that I have not seen in many years. When I saw them a feeling of hatred towards them arose inside of me. I remember the things they did a long time ago that hurt a lot of people. I know these things because, though they did not come to my church, they were pointed my way and came for help. This particular person rejected my counsel and continued to make choices that devasted many people. They crucified a lot of people, including their own family members.
Now, coming though the restaurant door, was this person. Inside me there is this feeling. I’ll call it hatred. I am sure no one would have been able to tell what was happening inside of me. But I knew. And God knew. The God-thought that came to me was: “I have a problem with love.” I know. I’ve known about it for a long time. In my recent times with God my love-problem has been focal, especially over the last six months. Add to this the fact that we are now preaching John 14-17 on Sunday mornings and it all adds up to me being unable to get away from the centrality and supremacy of love.
Love, for Jesus-followers, is not optional. It is, simply, the “greatest” (1 Corinthians 13). Without love a person is “nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:2). Jesus said: “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command” (John 15:12-14) It does not take a rocket scientist to understand this logic.
But, I rationalize, this person is not my friend! To this Jesus says, “I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.” I hear you Jesus. So just what kind of love do You want from me? Jesus said, “Righteous Father…, I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”
I am swimming in the thick, rich teriyaki sauce of God’s deep Triune Love, and gasping for breath, wanting more of it because I have so little God-love in me and because, cognitively, I know that the love of God is the answer for this world today. In Christian theology love comes before power; indeed, before all things. Mercy wins out over judgment. Power-freaks take note: love is the greatest. Power without love is halloween-scary.
I’m asking God to remove the love-mask from my face and transform my heart into His heart. The answer as I now see it is: abide in Him, dwell in Him, trust Him. Jesus’ promise in John 14-17 is that, even though my “love” falls short, He wants to give me His love. “In order that the love you (Father) have for me (Jesus) may be in them (you and me).”