Love Mandate

“A new commandment I give you: Love one another.” John 13:34

Mandates are not real popular these days. It seems nobody likes being told what to do. Some people expend enormous amounts of time and energy either supporting or opposing mandates that come down from places of authority. The debate rages on between standing up for our individual freedoms and laying down our rights for the good of others. I’m not about to wade into those murky waters. Our silly arguments pale in light of Jesus’ final words to His followers.

The night before Jesus was killed, He issued a mandate to His disciples:
Love one another.

Growing up Jewish, the disciples were used to commandments. They knew the Big 10, they were well versed in the 613 precepts found in the writings of Moses, and the hundreds of added Pharisaical laws were familiar to them. There hadn’t been any new commandments for hundreds of years. The people had their hands full trying to obey all the old ones.

This command was different.
It was not a suggestion.
(“You guys might want to try getting people to love each other.”)
It was not based on emotions.
(“Love people when that ooey-gooey feeling overtakes you.”)
It had no conditions.
(“Love people, but only those who are lovable.”)

This command was new.
Love was to be the distinguishing factor in the movement that was about to take over the world.

This begs some questions:

Can you command someone to love? Apparently, yes.
Do we need to be commanded to love? Evidently.
Does Jesus have the authority to command this? Yep.
Is this commandment optional? No siree.
Who are we commanded to love? Other believers.
Why do we need this commandment? Because it’s not our natural default.
Does God expect us to obey this mandate? Absolutely.
Where can we find an example of this? John 15:13

Do Christians have the right to not love?
I say no.

What say you?

The Disciple Whom Jesus Loved

I once read a true story about a mom and her three sons. She had a terminal illness and before she died, she wrote each of her boys a letter, to be opened in private after her passing. Each message held her special thoughts about each son. All three letters ended with the same line: “Don’t tell your brothers, but you were my favorite and I loved you most.”

Five times in John’s gospel, this mysterious phrase pops up: “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” The fact that those words aren’t used anywhere else in the scriptures raises suspicion that John may have been referring to himself, while trying to stay humble. Why does John tag himself as that disciple Jesus especially loved?

John’s Gospel uses the word “love” 39 times, more than the other three gospel writers put together. (Matthew–15x, Mark–7x, Luke–14x) But John doesn’t use the word until the third chapter. In the middle of a discussion with a Pharisee about the Kingdom, rebirth, and believing, Jesus drops an astounding truth. God loves humans. “God loves you so much,” Jesus told Nicodemus, “that He gave you Me.”

God loves the world, yes.
But somehow, He also loves each of us.
So don’t tell anybody,
but today He wants you to know this:
you, who are especially loved by the Father,
you are His favorite.
You are the disciple whom Jesus loves.

My Word for 2022

This is going to sound extremely nerdy,
but I chose a Hebrew word for 2022.
The word is “hesed”.
I did this because I’m setting out to spend a year
on each fruit of the Spirit in my personal study time.

But the fruit of the Spirit is
love, joy, peace, 
patience, kindness, goodness,
faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. 
Galatians 5:22

Yep, that’s nine years.
I like to plan ahead.
(Kinda glad self-control is at the end.)


The first fruit for year number one is love; but that seemed too general, too obvious, too broad. One of the ways our word “love” is translated in Old Testament Hebrew is the word “hesed”. Don’t be fooled by its simple appearance. It is long, deep, high and wide. Author Michael Card decided to take a year to write a book on this single word. It took him ten.

Hesed is possibly the most unique word ever uttered. That may sound like an exaggeration, but consider the following: this one Hebrew word is translated into English in over 100 different ways, making it practically untranslatable. There is lots of room to crawl inside and rattle around in this two syllable treasure for a year.

Back in 1535, when Myles Coverdale was working on an English translation of the Bible, he invented a new word to try to capture what “hesed” meant. Lovingkindness. But that doesn’t even come close to covering the depth of this word. Don’t take my word for it. Here is the list* of ways we come across it in our Bibles, compiled by a man who spent 10 years studying one word.

That should give us enough to chew on for a while.

* “Inexpressible: Hesed and the Mystery of God’s Lovingkindness”, by Michael Card

Have you picked out a word for the year? Please share!

Tears

I go into my room, sit in my chair and set out to pray for this desperate, broken, sad world which God so loves.

Words don’t come.

How does one pray for the world?

Finally I say, “Father, show me Your heart for the world.”

And sudden tears spring to my eyes, taking me by surprise.

Oh, I see.

Your heart weeps for the world.

And I wonder, will God be just as relieved and happy as the rest of us when the new heaven and new earth finally arrive?

Does the promise of no more tears apply to God as well?

When He wipes every last tear from our eyes, will that also be the end of our Father’s tears?

god so loved

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”  Revelation 21:4

Love Story: Bascom Hill

Episode #5

bascomFollowing our trick-or-treat adventure, I was forced to hobble around on crutches for awhile.  Getting to most of my college classes was doable, but twice a week I had Economics 101 in a building at the top of Bascom Hill.  It was a fairly steep climb for a girl with torn ligaments in her ankle.

(As a side note: one day the professor started the class by writing the word “BOOKKEEPER” on the blackboard.  “This word,” he said in his Boston accent, “is the only word in the English language with three double letters.” It’s the only thing I remember from Econ 101.)  Back to the story.

I didn’t want to skip two weeks of classes since I was already having trouble keeping supply and demand straight.

Enter my knight in shining armor.

Or perhaps PB was feeling a little guilty about my injury.

Either way, he showed up at the bottom of Bascom Hill right on time twice a week and gave me a piggy-back ride to the top.  It seemed like a fitting penance for dumping me off his shoulders and onto the sidewalk on Halloween.

When he carried me up the hill on those November afternoons, I started to believe that he loved me.

As I sat in that lecture hall taking notes on the Cost-Benefit Principle of goods and services, I began to see the many benefits of PB’s good heart.  I started to believe that I loved him, too.

31 Days of Questions: Day 4

4

If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?  Luke 6:32

It’s so easy to love PB (Pastor Blake, my hubby).  He’s considerate, kind, and fun.  He is trustworthy, works hard, and loves God.  He also makes me breakfast every Wednesday morning… brings it to me on a tray…. bacon, eggs, English muffin, coffee.  I love him.

It’s easy to love my kids.  They have grown up to be interesting and enjoyable adults.  They are finding ways to make their lives count for the Kingdom.  They are giving me grandchildren.  I love my kids.

It’s super easy to love my grands.  These little people give sloppy kisses and like to rock-a-bye and are so darn adorable.  Love oozes out of me when I’m around the babies.  I don’t have to try at all.

There’s no pat on the back for loving like this, though.  It’s loving the hard-to-love that gives me some heavenly credit.  Instead of staying away from unlovable people, it seems I am to seek them out and pour love into folks who don’t care to love me back.

Sounds like Somebody I know.

 31 Questions

I Need Help

So, I was on my way to Walmart yesterday to get dog food.

And I was going over my memory verses.

I’m working on 1 John 3:16-17 right now.

 “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us.  And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.  If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?”

As I pulled into the parking lot, I noticed a man standing there with a sign —

NEED HELP, TRYING TO GET HOME.

I went into Walmart, picked up the dog food, and then, while standing in line at the checkout, over the loudspeaker in the store I heard, “Dinah!  Is the love of God in you?”

Well, maybe it was whispered in my heart.  Loud.

I paid $17.99 for the dog food and put it in the car.

I stopped at KFC to pick up a gift card, but by the time I drove out, he was gone.

I don’t know.  Maybe it was a scam.  Maybe the guy was making a good living standing on the corner.  Maybe he would have traded the free chicken dinner for a bottle of Scotch.  Maybe.

But I do know there are lots of times I need help.

And I’m just trying to get home, too.

And the only way I know if the love of God is really in me…

the only way I know if all those scripture memory verses I can spout off have made it from my head to my heart…

is if I lay down a little bit of my time, my money, my life.

This is how we know what love is.