The Truth About Love

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April 25, 2019

2 John 5-6

I am writing to remind you, dear friends, that we should love one another. This is not a new commandment, but one we have had from the beginning. Love means doing what God has commanded us, and he has commanded us to love one another, just as you heard from the beginning.

CONSIDER THIS

Love. 

As Inigo Montoya says in the Princess Bride, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

Webster’s defines love as an intense feeling for someone or something and an attraction based on sexual desires.

Now I can have intense feelings for say, Star Wars or the Dallas Cowboys, but is that true love? And I can be sexually attracted to my wife, but I can also find someone else attractive. Does that mean I truly love another person in the context of my marriage vows?

I’m going with no. Feelings come and go. They’re circumstantial. And they’re ultimately about what I want or desire. So if Jesus is the truth, and he gave us the command to love one another, then what is the truth about love? 

When it was getting close to his crucifixion, a religious expert tried to trap Jesus by asking, “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” Jesus replied, “‘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” (Matthew 22:36-40).

But what if that’s not enough? What if “loving others as I love myself” is incomplete or problematic between you and me? 

Because what if I’m an introvert, and to love others as I love myself means to be left alone? What if I’m a narcissist? Or if my “love language” is significant touch and quality time and your’s is gifts and time alone? What if my attitude is “Jesus loves you, but the rest of us think you’re a jerk?” Or I’m wounded and the best I can do is “Jesus loves you, I don’t have to.”

All this to say, what if I’m loving myself out of “my own truth” instead of the truth of Jesus Christ?

Which is why Jesus gives a new command, something above and beyond “love others as you love yourself.” A new command that doesn’t replace the law of Moses, but completes it. It’s in John’s gospel when Jesus is washing his disciples’ feet and serving them dinner right before his crucifixion. He says, “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other” (John 13:34).

Just as I have loved you. 

When I love you like I love myself, it can be about feelings.

When I love you like Jesus loved us, it is a crucifixion choice.

When I love myself, it’s too often about holding on to my wants, rights, and entitlements. When I love as Jesus loved me, it’s giving up my wants, rights, and entitlements.

It’s what JD Walt has called over and over in the Daily Text “the second half of the gospel.” The first half is John 3:16: For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

The second half is 1 John 3:16: We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters.

And as the saying goes, the world will see the first half of the gospel when we embrace the second half. That’s how it works between you and me. 

Now in 2 John he “is reminding us” about of the truth about love. And we need the reminder because as we’re about to see in the second half of his letter, true love does not always mean what we think it means. 

THE PRAYER

Jesus, remain in me and I will remain in you. I can love like you because you loved me first. Bit by bit keep changing me from loving like myself to loving like you. Amen.

THE QUESTION

What’s love got to do with it?

For the awakening,
Omar Al-Rikabi

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Omar Rikabi is a United Methodist Pastor serving in North Texas. When not telling stories, Omar likes to watch movies with his wife Jennifer, read books with his three daughters, and work in the kitchen cooking and grilling for family and friends. You follow him on Twitter @omarrikabi or visit his blog omarrikabi.com

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