No Greater Love. No Harder Love.
Jesus tells us that there is no greater love than when one lays down their lives for friends (John 15:13). As a nation, we stop down on the last Monday in May ever year to memorialize the sacrifice of men and women who have done just that, given their lives for fellow countrymen. Butthe verse before, John 15:12, propels us towards a wider love when Jesus says to, “love each another as I have loved you.”
That right there changes the game, because I can’t help but notice that the recipients of his love spread far and wide. Sure, he loves his friends, family, and followers. But he also loves sinners, Samaritans, and outcasts. Perhaps most remarkably, he loves his accusers, abusers, and executioners. In Matthew 5:43-48 Jesus informs us why that’s not just important for him, but for us.
Loving those who are close to us and most like us is relatively easy. It’s the low hanging fruit of love, but if that’s where we stop, we’ve settled for status quo love. We’ve not distinguished ourselves in any way. It’s when we love our enemies, pray for those who persecute us, lean in to to embrace our irritants and adversaries that we truly display the ways of the kingdom and the heart of the king.
That’s why Jesus ends this section with this quote: “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect (Mt. 5:48).” Be perfect here doesn’t mean flawless or sinless. Perfect here means complete or whole. Don’t stop half way on this love thing. Go to the borders of comfortable love, and then blow past it. That’s where you will find Jesus.