Wednesday, March 4, 2009

"If you love me..." - Jesus

LENT: the eighth day.
"If you love me, keep my commandments." - Jesus (John 15:15)

Question: "What is one of the biggest stumbling blocks that keeps non-believers from ever darkening the doors of their local Christian church?"
Answer: "A lack of authenticity, church politics, and the hard to hide truth that the authentic Jesus kind of love is seldom central to community life."

Jesus was crystal clear regarding what he wanted to see when it came to the label "Jesus-follower." And it's safe to say that the Lord wasn't looking for correct doctrine or outward appearances or a social political slant.

"If you love me," the Master said, "keep my commandments." Such a simple admonition. But then Jesus always has a way of cutting through the baloney and getting right to the point. The disciples and the crowds tended to say things like:
  • "Lord, Lord."
  • "Master, Master."
  • "Let me sit at your right hand."
  • "I would never turn against you."
  • "Let us bring down fire on all the unbelievers."
  • "Not my feet but my whole body."
  • "When will you usher in your Kingdom?"
  • "Let me go first and bury my father."
  • "When the waters were troubled I could not hurry to the edge in time."
  • "Look at me, I'm not like those other sinners."
  • "Show us the way, Lord, show us the way...."
And so he did show them the way; plain and simple. "All righty then. If this is what you want then I'll use small words and speak slowly. Listen up: If you love me - if you truly say that you love me, then follow my directions; demonstrate my love; keep my commandments..."

Us: "Oh but Lord," we all want to say; "You mentioned something about loving the Lord God with all our heart, all our strength, all our mind, all our soul, and loving our neighbor as ourselves... Isn't that too broad a concept? I mean, what is love anyway?"

Jesus: "Greater love has no one than to lay down his or her life for a friend..."

Us: "OK, Lord, we don't have to go there. But my mind? Get serious! Our minds are so complex that psychologists are still trying to figure out the basics."

Jesus: "So be transformed , therefore, by the renewing of your minds..."

Us: "That's not fair, Lord, Paul said that, much later... Oh, never mind. Listen, Lord, our lives are very very complicated. How can we possibly keep your commandments? I mean, isn't that just a tad unreasonable? Can't we be selective? You really are a little too radical for us sometimes...."

Jesus: "If you love me, keep my commandments..."

PRAYER: Challenge us gently, Lord; show us the way; grant us courage. Amen

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