Jesus said, “For if you love only those who love you, what reward will you get? Don’t even tax-collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what is exceptional about that? Don’t even non-Jewish people do the same?”
— Matthew 5:46-47 (USC)
Love is a verb.
We cannot say we love. We must do it. Love only has value from the viewpoint of the other’s viewpoint. Another person is not our neighbour; we are theirs! Love begins with us. And, so far as the Lord Jesus is concerned, best we never insist our neighbour love us.
The obligation of love as an enunciation of obedience is to be the neighbour.
Discipleship’s challenge pivots at the hinge called love. First, who is able to love the Lord God so fully they are obedient before the inevitable shreds of doubt dilute conviction and hence make it impossible for faith’s expression? Second, when we have obeyed the Lord God without a nanosecond of hesitation, we have the impetus for love that knows no bounds – we love not only those who love us and our brothers and sisters, we love with the radical Kingdom love of God.
Such love as Christ’s obedience on the cross knew not a moment’s doubt in the act of it. Jesus may have prayed for the chalice to pass from him, but he had no thought to disobey the Lord God’s will.
To love without doubt is to experience the love of God. We might think we know all about the love of God, but what I’m talking about is to experience love as God might experience it.
There is an outcome to us in this kind of love.
We begin to be genuinely transformed spiritually in the act of loving an enemy or someone we find it hard to love. God’s Spirit begins to do business in us; we are in receipt of something that changes us. Its impact is never insignificant.
The trouble is we don’t go far enough. We insist in swinging with the pendulum of disobedience, which is to fluctuate between reflection and doubt. We find it safest (and best?) to stay in a brooding bitterness that forever sees them as the alien and not the neighbour who’s loved by God. We decide neighbourliness is their obligation when Jesus clearly puts the ball in our court.
Will we love when we can? We will when we obey without thought; when we trust without hesitation.
Love constructs no barrier, leaves no stone unturned, and insists on being the neighbour. Love wins when we do what’s risky and we cross the road to help the stranger in distress.
QUESTIONS in REVIEW:
1. Think of a time when you took that risk and became the neighbour to a stranger. What was God’s impact on you in that obedience?
2. Reflect over a time when you hesitated and doubted when prompted to love. How were you left feeling?
© 2015 S. J. Wickham.
Note: USC version is Under the Southern Cross, The New Testament in Australian English (2014). This translation was painstakingly developed by Dr. Richard Moore, a NT Greek scholar, over nearly thirty years.