Saturday, May 05, 2007

Sunday Devotion - Love One Another - Foggetaboutit!

John 13:31, 34
When he was gone, Jesus said, "Now is the Son of Man glorified and God is glorified in him.
"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. NIV

Here’s a question: why does Jesus wait until Judas leaves before He starts to talk about loving one another? Surely if He had said this before Judas left, it would have changed the whole betrayal episode? Judas may have questioned his own motives about whether or not he really loved Jesus, causing him to reject the idea of betrayal. But somehow Jesus chooses to talk about love after Judas was gone. Is there something we should learn from this?

Church people can be the most loving people on earth. At the same time, church people can be the most hateful people on earth. There’s a fine line at times between loving one another and loathing each other. I’ve been in parish ministry for over 21 years, on both sides of the Atlantic, and do you know what? People are the same on either side of the pond. They can love you or leave you, hate you or help you.

I’ve seen people walk away from one another in church or refuse to help because they end up on the same ministry team. I’ve been asked not to pair certain people as greeters at the church door because they can’t stand one another. I’ve also watched some people at meetings aggravate one another simply because of an unresolved issue which has gone on for decades. Or then there’s the political fallout each time a presidential election comes along. Every congregation has their feuding families. Every church has their competing and contentious personalities.

Maybe that’s why Jesus waited until Judas left before speaking about loving one another. Perhaps He had had enough of Judas and knew that his heart couldn’t be changed. Judas had a reputation for seeing the worst in other people – remember the woman with the perfume – and he also was accused of dipping into the cash flow for his own purposes. People like that are hard to please, hard to live with and, above all, hard to change. So maybe Jesus wasn’t about to do Judas any favors.

Love one another? Foggetaboutit! It’s hard enough getting people just to live with one another at times….

Prayer: Lord Jesus, why didn’t You make it easier for Judas to turn away from his betrayal of You? Why didn’t You stop him in his tracks and keep him from becoming a traitor? And why did You ask us to love one another? You know how hard that is, especially in church, never mind the world!

O Lord, help us to love one another, even if it kills us to do so. Amen.

Stushie writes the Heaven's Highway daily devotional and loves to blogachute to waste time. You haven't tried it? Shame on you - that's what Fridays are for!


Pappy McVulgar said...

“…had a reputation for seeing the worst in other people…he also was accused of dipping into the cash flow for his own purposes”

In our denomination these days, one can witness your conclusion of seeing the worst in others and dipping in the power pool for our own good. To some folks on the margins of full church inclusion “they” are hording power and determining who is in and who is out. This can look like ecclesial terrorism to those that are marginalized.
Then we can look at those that are “fighting” to up hold the “proper” manner to worship God and deliver the Gospel message to the world. In their eyes they are keeping a divine standard to which others seek to water down or taint absent of traditional standards. They are the ones being robbed. They are the ones being accused of oppression and defamed with numerous “ism’s”.
I find it difficult to nest truth in either camp. Is not Christ’s call to love our neighbor supposed to be challenging. It is not offered as the easy solution. Perhaps, the reason it has not been accomplished thus far in a sustainable manner is due to the tension of our depraved and fallen nature.
I look at this tension between the here and not yet like two gun fighters facing off in the town square (like in an old spaghetti western). You have the guy in white and the guy in black. It depends on where you are more personally invested as to whom you shall hope wins. It is not very important that someone is going to get hurt and possibly die. A conclusion is going to happen. So it seems.
We all know what happens. The good guy wins and the bad guy loses. What about the family of the bad guy. The spouse or partner. The children. The dependents. It then becomes a gray issue. This breeds revenge, and a vendetta seeks retribution. It is the same today as it was in the ancient Near East and in First Century Palestine. Is not Jesus challenging s to a higher call? It is not about us. We are free. This freedom does cost us everything as it cost Jesus everything. Sacrifice in the face of hostility. Is this not how Jesus loved us?

Stushie said...

"I find it difficult to nest truth in either camp. "

This is the great difficulty in the church, Pappy. People are being slaughtered in the middle - its not that we're losing significant numbers on either side of the spectrum. it's that we're losing thousands in no man's land, to coin a WW1 phrase.

Trenches cost lives, but not in the trenches.

Pappy McVulgar said...

I agree we need to take a stand and hold on to truth. I say this in light that truth is God's alone. Anything I hold must be held in tension with conviction and love. I call attention to the lack of love. I bet that somewhere out there is the absolute truth. I would also say that no one out there, say God, has any idea what truth looks like. We can experience it and know when we done. The funny thing about truth is that it is fluid and alive. Why can we not love each other and accept the mystery of God without having to define God on either side. Is not God with all of us, even the least of these?