A couple of years ago, I heard about a man who committed to living like Jesus for an entire year. Wow! That’s some commitment. I imagined the transformation that would undoubtedly happen. To find that joyful peace, or is it unwavering grit, insightful compassion, or humble adoration? Whichever way, each way, in all ways, life would never be the same.
I thought about how I would approach that challenge. How would I know that I was truly living like Jesus?
Then it hit me; John says God is love. So to live like Jesus would be living love. But what is love? And how would I live love while crossing cultures with one foot on U.S. soil and the other in places like Haiti, where love is both obviously abundant and seemingly scarce, challenging and effortless simultaneously?
Not wholly unfamiliar, just listening to music, reading books, and sitting through many sermons, I have learned a thing or two about love. I know that it is universal, timeless, and ageless. It is a feeling, a choice, a given. It is all-encompassing, enduring, and everlasting.
Love conquers all, never fails, and keeps us together. But it hurts, gets lost, and takes time.
There are love bugs, love seats, and love boats. There are love notes, love songs, and love birds.
Love is a dare, a game, a language. You can be lovesick, loveless, and lovely.
You can fall in love, be addicted to love, would do anything in the name of love, playing the game of love with the power of love.
You can’t hurry it or buy it and don’t know if it will be there tomorrow. Yet love is all you need.
They say love the one you are with, and find the love of your life because love wins.
There’s even a “Love Chapter” in the Bible.
We’ve heard the “Love Chapter” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8) read and expounded on many times (mostly at weddings). It’s one of the most memorized, admired, and well-known passages in all Scripture, even by non-church folk. We’ve heard this famous passage so often our eyes kind of glaze over. “Love is patient; love is kind, does not env…” Yeah, yeah. We know how this goes.
But what is love, really?
So John says God is love. Bob the Tomato says God is bigger than the boogie man, Godzilla, and the monsters on T.V. So the love that is God must be way bigger than my love of black licorice and movie theater popcorn.
Jesus named the number one law of all of the laws, and there were tons. Leviticus, the third book of the Torah and the Old Testament, lists most of the 613 rules of conduct. He could have picked any one of them. Murder is pretty heavy. Stealing isn’t exactly harmless. Adultery can destroy families in a hurry. Lying about someone could get you and them into a heap of trouble. But with no hesitation, he picked the one that sat right in between “don’t carry a grudge or seek revenge” and “don’t mate two different kinds of animals.” (Leviticus 19:18) Jesus basically said, “That’s an easy one. Love God and love people.” Just like that. There is no exception clause, no fine print, no room for interpretation, love people, all of them, every single one.+
Even deeper, Paul said that you can’t go wrong if you love people because love is the fulfillment of the law. Fulfillment, like an Amazon order, picked out of the warehouse, loaded, delivered, fulfilled. It’s complete, buttoned-up, stick a fork in it, done. All of it, all 613 laws, if you love with the same love that God is, you don’t break any. So WWJD (what would Jesus do) is interchangeable with WWLD (what would love do).
It makes sense then if you understand love than live love, your life would change. If that love got a little contagious, the whole world could be a better place.
I will figure out love one word at a time, taking 1 Corinthians 13 to heart and feet. Live it, learn it, love it. It is quite a list, a list that I think I already know, but somehow I think I have a lot to learn.
“Love is patient; love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others; it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” I Corinthians 13: 4-8