When Jesus issued a new command to love one another to his disciples during the Last Supper, his order wasn’t that they go out and buy something for their girlfriends or wives; nor was he suggesting that they spring for dinner and the latest form of entertainment for some cute Jewish girl that might have caught their eye.
This new command to love one another had nothing to do with how they might feel about someone: in fact, it had nothing to do with emotions at all. It had everything to do with a call to action.
We read the story of the Last Supper in John 13. Later in the evening after Judas had already been outed as the one who would betray Jesus, Christ issued his command. “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”
The kind of love Christ is talking about here has nothing to do with the sappy, in-your-face kind of romantic love that we’re being bombarded with as Valentines Day approaches. This kind of love is not a feeling; Jesus wasn’t commanding that we have an emotional response. He commanded that we demonstrate our love for others like he did: by serving and by giving of ourselves. Shortly thereafter Christ willingly subjected himself to the most heinous form of execution known to man at that time.
The kind of love we’re called to in our every day relationships, and even in our marital relationships, is therefore a sacrificial kind of love. After all, love without sacrifice is of little value; love without sacrifice is conditional. Christ calls us to an unconditional kind of love.
Romans 5:8 reads: “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” Emphasis added!
We certainly didn’t deserve the kind of love that Christ showed us by becoming the ultimate sacrifice that would bridge the chasm between God and us. He did it simply because he loved us and wanted a permanent relationship with us. If you really want to look at it this way, we deserved what he got.
The Divorce Connection
People have forgotten Christ’s definition of love. It’s not about how one person can make another feel; it has absolutely nothing to do with feelings, though the acceptance that comes with a romantic kind of love is important, powerful and quite motivational. The love of Christ is all about sacrificing one’s self for another person. I think that’s why divorce is so prevalent in our country. We’ve lost sight of what love truly is. We think it’s about what we can get as if we’re entitled to it.
For example, Ephesians 5:25 instructs husbands to “love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” That’s the gold standard. Note that husbands are not told to love their wives “if…” or “when…” In fact, the Apostle Paul, who wrote Ephesians, talks at length in the book of Romans about this sacrificial kind of love as “the Good News.”
Interestingly enough, Christ’s command wasn’t really new at all. Earlier in the gospels we read where Christ, in response to a question about the most important commandment given in the Law of Moses, says this: “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”
Rather, Christ commanded his disciples to have the kind of love for one another that was based on a committed obedience to God the Father — just as Christ’s own committed obedience took him all the way to the cross as the ultimate sacrifice for man’s screw-ups, failures and blatant disobedience.
- Ephesians 5 (asorensen.wordpress.com)