I’m remembering a precious, humorous moment in my life as a first grade public school teacher. There I was with a group of eight sitting around the kidney shaped table in the far corner of the room so I could see what the other students are doing while teaching the foundations of reading to this smaller group. My eyes are on them. Their little eyes are on me.
I’m passionately teaching them how words are put together by symbols and sounds. I feel like they are clued in and eager to learn. So, I get excited! When I finished extolling the simplicity of vowels and consonants coming together to make our words, a little girl leaned in close. I couldn’t wait for her response because I was feeling so good about what I just taught because of their attentiveness that day. She pointed to my neck and said, “Mrs. Callaway, I love that necklace you’re wearing!” After a big sigh and thinking, “did you not hear anything I just said”, we talked about my necklace. Perhaps another day we will have comprehension was my next thought.
We all get so distracted by the shiny objects of this world, don’t we? We get confused by all the voices telling us to do this or be that. We forget the Truth and the simplicity of Truth. We forget the foundation upon which all of life’s relationships are based upon.
Jesus is constantly interrupted by the pesky religious elite who try to find fault in his teaching. I wonder how many times Jesus let out a long sigh while sparring with the religious elite who did nothing but hate with determined goals to trap and bait Him in the middle of His ministry? Seriously, they slice and dice every word that comes from His mouth while missing the point completely because they have lost the ability to love God and love others. Jesus goes over this basic foundation of love that all other commandments are based upon. Do we have comprehension yet? Not quite…
I’m reminded of Paul’s letter to the early church. He also takes learners back to the foundation of love as being the “greatest” among all other characteristics of Jesus that we must imitate. It seemed the church then forgot, too. Paul preaches we can have faith, believing in God. We can do good things for others, we can give away all we have to help those in need, but if we do not have love, our lives are nothing but a lot of noise coupled with pride and arrogance. Paul describes God’s love as;
“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”
“Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, 13, NLT
Truly this discussion about Love began with Jesus’ reply to the religious who had no relationship with God. Love God. Love Others. If we, too, truly took this seriously, we would revolutionize the world. This is Love. This is Jesus, the One and Only sent by God because of God’s love to us.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16, NIV
John, Jesus’ beloved disciple, explains the foundation of love with clarity. Love is of God. If we don’t know God, says John, then we don’t know what love is. “I Wanna Know What Love Is”, cries out the singer of a popular song in the eighties, but do we?
God’s Love and Ours
“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” 1 John 4:7-12, NIV
God is Love
“God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:16-18, NIV
Love God, Love each Other
“We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.” 1 John 4:19-21, NIV
Matthew—God’s Word Fulfilled
Matthew 22:34-40, NLT
The Most Important Commandment
34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees with his reply, they met together to question him again. 35 One of them, an expert in religious law, tried to trap him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?”
37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”
Can we see now why all other commandments are based on Love? If not, want to see my necklace?
Help us to love like you love us. We love only because you first loved us. Real Life is about your love as the true foundation for all loving, forever relationships. Yes, I want to love like that.
In Jesus Name, Amen