I’ve written before about the nebulosity of love. Love is easy to talk about in the abstract, harder to put into practice. We understand love is the essence of God’s character, but how does that translate into love living in us? We can extol love as the greatest of gifts, but do we lift love to that level in our relationships?
As in all things under the New Covenant, our new arrangement with God, the answer goes back to Jesus Christ. In Jesus, love exemplified took on flesh. In Jesus, love walked among us. In Jesus, we have the fullness of love expressed in attitude and action. And as Jesus reminded us over and over, His life of love was a reflection of the Father.
In Love Walked Among Us, author Paul Miller paraphrases Jesus’ statement in John 5:19, “I do nothing on my own. I can only do what I see my dad doing.” Mr. Miller continues, “We see this kind of dependence as unhealthy. We prize independence and trusting ourselves, but at the foundation of Jesus’ life lies a childlike trust in God, whom he calls ‘Father.’ Jesus is not controlled by a rule book but by a relationship.”
At the center of this relationship is love. Jesus took the love of the Godhead and extended it to us. Both by showing us what love looked like during His earthly ministry and by the ultimate expression of love; dying in our place. “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends, if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you slaves; for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you” (Jn 15:13-15). The kingdom that Christ ushered in during His first Messianic appearance among us is indeed the “kingdom of love.”
Again, at the center of this kingdom is a love relationship. God instructs us to love not to reach some higher level of spirituality, moral perfection, or understanding. God’s command to love, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another” (Jn 13:34), is inherent in who He is and who we are as His children. Quoting again from Paul Miller, “Jesus interpreted life through the lens of his Father. He didn’t say we should love our enemies because ‘that’s what love does,’ he said we should love because that’s what his Father is like.”