John 13:34 – “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”
I was married a matter of weeks ago; we exchanged the same vows, repeated the same words, and entered the same covenant millions of Christians have entered into since Christ inaugurated the church in His blood more than two millennia past.
I love my wife, Jesse. But how does she know it? By my words, actions, or both?
Love is more than an emotion, yet not less. It is more than obedience, and still, not less. Love, strictly speaking, is joyful obedience. Do I show love for Jesse by standing by her in sickness and in health, if it is done so begrudgingly, or from delight in being by her side no matter the circumstance?
Consider the 13th chapter of the book of John. We are told that Christ, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end (John 13:1). Where did that love lead, but if not the cross? God’s love brought Christ to the cross, and His love predestined us for adoption as sons.
What is beautiful about the picture of marriage, that of Christ and His church, is that same love is not only called to be emulated by a husband for his spouse but also by every Christian in all times, as we see from John 13:34.
Love demands action. My words to Jesse every morning, “I love you,” are meaningless without the action that should undergird those three little words. If I say I love her, yet never take out the trash, never talk with her, never hold her when she’s upset, never go out of my way or inconvenience myself for her, then I have no right to use those words. Those words become cheap; those words become useless.
If I say I love my wife and follow that through the actions, I take to show her the love I have for her, how much more should my love for Christ be shown through action? Love bears fruit. If I say I love Christ, but never lift a finger for anyone in the church with a need, how have I fulfilled that love? If I say I love Christ, but never give a ride to someone whose car broke down, how have I fulfilled that love? If I say I love Christ, but never pray with, give food, or help financially support a grieving widow in my church, how have I fulfilled the precious love of Christ?
I have been considering Christ much lately. I am still mulling over four answers to basic questions about who Christ is, which I plan to, Lord willing, post in the coming weeks. But when reading about who Christ is, I found myself reflecting on the humble, perfect love He has for us. A love that caused Him to willingly step down from His Heavenly abode and stoop to us worthless sinners is something that causes me, in turn, to well up with love and affection for Him.
With that knowledge, I should run to serve in the same manner in which my Savior served on earth. It should also cause me to look introspectively at what I believe. If my doctrine does not drive me to love and good works (Matthew 5:16, Hebrews 10:24), then I should examine my doctrine to see if it follows the word of God. If my doctrine is sound, then I must examine my heart.
Knowing the humility of Christ tampers my complaint when Christ calls me to roll up my sleeves and serve how He serves. He stepped down from Heaven to love; I can step out of my air-conditioned apartment to love as well.