“See how he loved Him!”
This was spoken by the Jews when Jesus wept at Lazarus’s death. Our question today is, “Will Red Deerians say this about Trinity?” We want to be known as a body that loves people well, but what does that mean? How do we love like that?
I put this question on Facebook and then compared the responses with Scriptures. Here’s what I found.
“I felt really loved when (this person) called me by my (given) name,” a pastor’s wife said. Remembering someone’s name is a great way to express love. Jesus knows it is important, too. According to John 10:3, He calls us by name!
A grandmother fondly recalled a woman who always had “open arms for a hug.” An appropriate touch can speak love loudly. Jesus never limited his touch to “safe” people. He touched the blind, the lepers and even the dead. For us, touching requires a sensitivity to cultural and personal preferences, especially during this pandemic.
Several responses included being heard as part of being well loved. Good listening is a rare but extremely important skill. It might include tools like connected questions which is asking the person about something they just said. Jesus demonstrated this with the woman at the well. He listened to people who were troubled, uncertain, wanted healing, wanted to learn and even to those who wanted to trick him.
Another comment I often received was that people wanted to be seen and not ignored. Entering a room full of strangers is difficult for many people. We can make them more comfortable by acknowledging them. Jesus is a great example of this: Remember Zacchaeus who thought he was hidden? The woman healed of her issue of blood? Blind Bartimaeus who called out to be healed? Even the children were not invisible to our Lord – He blessed them.
Feeling accepted or a sense of belonging makes people feel well-loved, say my Facebook friends. In a time of fractured families and COVID restrictions, this is more important than ever. This is exactly what God offers in 1 John 3:1, “See what great love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God.” To be part of the family of God is what we all crave.
People who love others well will show the unconditional love of God. Jesus told his disciples (and us) to love one another as he loved them, as the Father loved him. This includes our enemies and our friends; no one is excluded. What a huge order!
This can only happen if we have the mind and heart of Jesus. In Philippians 2:2-7, we read what that looks like:
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look not to his own interests, but rather to the interests of others.
Adopt the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus,
who, existing in the form of God,
did not consider equality with God
as something to be exploited.
Instead he emptied himself
by assuming the form of a servant,
taking on the likeness of humanity.
And when he had come as a man…
Verse 3 tells us to do nothing out of selfish ambition, not trying to impress. We must check our motive. If it is not purely for the glory of God, we need to repent. Next, we consider others better, or more important than ourselves. This perspective is unnatural, until we learn the mind of Christ.
The next verse tells us not to look out only for our own interests but also for the interests of others. The Middle East mindset where community come first could be an example. We need to consider those beyond our front door.
I think of verse 6 as a “No Status Symbol Stance.” Jesus was God, but he never flaunted it. He often told people and demons not to reveal it. Instead, he walked beside humanity as one of us. When we operate in this mind, we join others on their journey as fellow discoverers learning the grace and truth of God.
For verse 7 I really like the King James, “He made himself of no reputation.” We can identify with that word; our reputation is important to us. But since Jesus didn’t flaunt his Godhood, he wasn’t worried about his reputation, either. I wrestled with this recently until I remembered that it’s not about me and left it in God’s hands.
Paul summed up all these traits in his next statement, “he assumed the form of a servant.” Servanthood requires showing an unconditional love, humility, and an others-centeredness. All the ways of loving people well flow out of a servant’s heart.