“This is my commandment: Love each other the way I have loved you…This is my command: Love each other.” John 15:12;17
By the time you read this, we will be in just the first days of a new year. A year we, as a global community, turned our eyes to months ago, in the belief that if we could just get through 2020, everything would be better. But right now, as I write this, it’s just days before Christmas, and I’m struggling. There is the usual “busy-ness” of Advent and Christmas that every pastor faces, but so much more. How do we do gather so that its safe for everyone? How do we do yet another thing, we’ve never done before and only had the technology to do for the last week? And, I’m not just a pastor, I’m a person. I haven’t done, prepared my family traditions. I can’t find my “Christmas mojo” to even want to decorate the house or be “Christmassy”. Its not the same. I’m not the same.
Usually, I love the beginning of a new year, starting fresh, making intentions for becoming more of who God says I am and crafting a life that purposefully pursues that. I listen more intently for a word from the Lord for the new year, for myself and for the community. Trust, me. If there is one thing I have done this year, its pray. But coming into 2021, I’m having difficulty getting that sense of a clear message from the Lord. Or maybe, more to the point, the message isn’t what I was expecting, wanting…it doesn’t feel dramatic or “prophetic” enough for a community coming out of a global pandemic. Which seems silly to say or write – I even considered just deleting these sentences so you’d never know how tunnel visioned I’m being. The word I hear from the Lord is just this: Love. Do the action. Purposefully, intentionally, sacrificially, unconditionally, LOVE people. Teach on daily basis that all of scripture calls us to love like Jesus, in the name of Jesus, for the sake of Jesus.
Jesus is Love. He is the pure incarnation of God’s love for all of God’s creation. Love transforms all things. Loving transforms us. In a year where political, social, and cultural chaos divided and polarized with violence and enmity, we look to a new year to re-embody our identity in and through Jesus Christ. We love our enemies, do good to those who hurt us. Love fills the spaces of loneliness and isolation. Loving transforms us from the inside out. We don’t have to wait to ‘feel’ whatever it is that motivates us to love. Love is often an act of obedience. But in truth, loving and ‘doing’ love is about how we love God, not about how we feel about another person or situation. Jesus, Love, is bigger than that, stronger than that. As disciples of Jesus, as children of God, its as hard and as simple as this: Love each other.
Say it. Do it. Be strong in it. Be transparent and vulnerable with it. Choose it. Be obedient to it. Find joy in it. Be made free by it. I encourage, challenge, you all to start a journal this year. Yes, let it be a gratitude journal, a prayer journal, but also let it serve as the place you wrestle with what it means for YOU personally to LOVE God, by LOVING others. How are you transforming the world around you by doing the work of Love daily? How are YOU personally being transformed by God’s love for you as you do the work of love?
Yah, its as simple and as hard as this: Love each other.