Jesus' love has the power to change lives

Posted: Friday, July 26, 2002

I don't find living the way of Jesus easy, but I do find it a great and challenging adventure that continually opens up new vistas. In relationship with Himself, Jesus opens up the greatest adventures of life. To all who would seek to live as His followers He gives the great command: "Love one another, as I have loved you," John 13:34. It may sound easy, but living it out is demanding.

In Middle East culture the feet are the lowliest part of the human body. After a journey to a friend's house on the hot dusty roads of Palestine, the host family would have their non-Jewish servant wash the feet of the guests. It felt so refreshing. It was part of gracious hospitality. The washing of feet was the lowliest of tasks.

John 13 depicts Jesus, leaving the upper room table, taking a basin of water and towel, then one by one washing the feet of His disciples. When finished Jesus said to His disciples: "Do you know what I have done to you? If I your Lord and Teacher have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you." Then His command: Love one another, as I have loved you.

Soon after Jesus even superseded this lowly task of service by climbing the Cross of Calvary to pay the penalty for the sins of the world: yours and mine, in our rebellion against God. In love Jesus descended to the depths that he might lift us to the heights. That's His love.

Think of what a difference that love can make. It has power to change an enemy into a friend. In the closing days of the Civil War when President Abraham Lincoln was exhorted to totally destroy the rebel leaders of the Confederacy, he responded: "Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?"

Love is far more than a passionate emotion. It is not an emotion, but a decision. Love means to love that which is unlovable, or it is no virtue at all. C.S. Lewis, in his book Mere Christianity, says learning to love is perfectly simple: Do not waste time bothering whether you love your neighbor, act as if you did.

As soon as we do this we find one of the greatest secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love them. Love draws others in. It does not exclude. Edwin Markham, the West Coast American poet wrote: "He drew a circle that shut me out - heretic, rebel, a thing to flout. But love and I had the wit to win: we drew a circle that took him in."

Think of what a difference living Jesus' way can make: in our home, in our Juneau community, in our nation, and in the world. Are we individually willing to step forward to practice the great adventure "Love one another, as I have loved you?"

Dr. Paul D. Beran is pastor of Resurrection Lutheran Church, Juneau.

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