Is it Possible to Love One Another as Jesus Loves Us?

by | Jan 26, 2022 | 5 comments

Lenten Practices

 

During Lent, we remember Jesus’ command: “Love one another as I have loved you.” My question is: is it still possible to love one another as Jesus loved us? We live in a world of us versus them, a culture of contempt. We are broken into camps around politics, theology, and understandings of race. Don’t forget human sexuality, biblical authority, and denominational structures. Did I mention the pandemic? Frankly, some of us are too tired to even be patient, let alone loving. Even with all that said, I promise you we don’t have to give up on love. In this article, I want to share the top four ways to practice love this Lent.

 

Does Love Equal Approval?

First, I want to share one common concern. That’s the concern that love means approval. If I am called to love you, but we disagree about fundamental understandings of the world, am I compromising my faith? Am I sending the signal that I approve of what I believe is sinful or unjust behavior?

Here’s what I have found. Loving as Jesus loved does not mean acceptance of behaviors or beliefs. It does however equal acceptance of the other person’s humanity, and their inner divinity. No matter how misguided you think their beliefs and behaviors are. In the end, judgement is God’s domain, not ours.

Now, on to the problem and the solutions: the four ways to practice love this Lent.

 

Why Loving as Christ Loved is Hard

Polarization tends to beget polarization and it takes us farther and farther from Jesus’ command. Polarization is built on fear and judgement. “I am right, and you are wrong. In fact, you are so wrong that I can’t trust you, talk with you, or even be me when you are here.”

These victim stances have no place in the consciousness of Christ. He ate with sinners. He interacted with Pilate. He did not try to winnow out the “other.” He allowed Judas to remain. He set personal differences aside and, in their place, created community amongst his people.

 

Four Ways to Practice Love This Lent

1) Practice Looking for Common Value Polarizing constructs are only given life when we act on them. By letting go of “us versus them,” you take the first steps toward loving as Jesus loved, and to creating community. Instead, let polarization dissolve by embracing the opposites, or by finding, identifying, and focusing on common underlying values.

2) Practice Listening When you are with someone you don’t love, listen for their humanity. Put yourself in their shoes. Ask: how has your personal journey brought you to this place? How has it shaped your perspectives?

3) Practice Extending Grace The person you can’t stand to love may look at you the same way you look at them. Surprise them by extending grace. Give them grace to make a mistake, to be on a different journey, to grow in their own timeline, and to be recipients of God’s love, and yours.

4) Practice Praying If you can’t find love within you, ask God to show you how, to teach you how to love them. If that doesn’t work, keep praying.

 

It’s Possible to Love One Another as Jesus Loves Us

The pandemic has shown us that there is no us versus them. There is only us. People from every walk of life and every country on earth have been impacted by the pandemic. If we hope to come through it with any sense of unity, we have to practice loving one another as Jesus loved us. It’s not automatic; it takes intention. I invite you to take on these four practices this Lent: looking for common values, listening, extending grace, and praying.

We don’t know everything the post-pandemic future holds, but the more we trust God in our approach, the more that we can live by Jesus’ command. Then, the more confident we’ll be knowing that we can survive and even thrive once again.

Excerpted and adapted from Rebekah Simon-Peter’s upcoming book (Market Square Publishers, 2022)

Copyright © 2022 rebekahsimonpeter.com, All Rights Reserved.

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5 Comments

  1. Mitchell Cochran

    Thank you for this insight. I have been thinking much about this very topic. I have found it interesting that when Jesus says, “Love your neighbor,” the first response is to question, “Who is my neighbor?” But when Jesus says, “Love your enemies,” no asks, “Who is my enemy?”

    Reply
  2. April Henkel

    Well now, that is a good question to ponder. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it posed this way, nor thought about it.

    Reply
    • Jamie Snively

      Hi Louise, Of course! I’ve sent you an email with more detailed information. If you don’t see it, please check your spam folder in case it landed there on accident. If you still can’t find it, please let me know here and I’ll try resending from a different email address.

      Thank you for reaching out!

      Reply
  3. Darrell Grant

    I find the article on Christian love very interesting and soul searching; it was well written. I am concerned that there may be an unwritten implication that the Bible believing Christians, especially United Methodist members, must yield to nonbelieving people in the leadership of our Church.

    Please observe:
    1. As United Methodists, we believe The Holy Bible to be inspired Word of God for our salvation. (The Book of Discipline-2016, page 73, article IV).
    2. The Holy Bible, God’s Word, condemns the act of homosexuality in many places in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. Jesus, the Son of God, said as recorded in Mark 7: 21-23 “…For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.” (NIV). The Holy Bible describes the behavior very well and how God handles it in detail in Romans 1: 24-28.
    3. “The United Methodist does not condone the practice of homosexuality and considers this practice to be incompatible with Christian teaching.” (The Book of Discipline-2016, page 113.)
    4. Jesus commanded his disciples in Matthew 10:14 “If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet” (NIV). The Christians are commanded in 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers…. Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord.” (NIV).

    These observations are not a picking and choosing of segments to prove one’s point but a selection to demonstrate the tenor of the entire Word of God and the belief of the United Methodist Church. I believe that Satan has set out to destroy the Church Triumphant in any manner possible (I Peter 5:8) and is using the concept of homosexuality to do just that. It is the acceptance of the practice of homosexuality as a God approved behavior that is destroying the United Methodist Church, and many other denominations who serve the Living Savior, and is trying to steal their property. I have a problem with that behavior and want no part of it.
    Now to the question of how to love those who mistreat us and rob us. That was illustrated by my farmer father’s response when a neighboring farmer turned his tractor over pinning himself under it in the mid 1950’s. My father was working across the fence between him. My father cut the fence, pulled the neighbor’s tractor off of him with my father’s tractor, tended to his welfare, returned to his own field and repaired the fence. This was despite the fact that the neighbor was devoid of gratitude and his antisocial behavior was the laughing stock of the neighborhood. That I can willingly do. I welcome those who believe in and practice homosexuality to worship with us, teaching them the way of salvation. I cannot accept the leadership of those who do not believe in God and His sacred scripture and cannot accept their controlling the Church and stealing the property.

    Darrell Grant, February 15, 2022

    Reply

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