Bella Vista Church of Christ

LIFELINES

03/13/2019

Randall Caselman

 

Love As He Loved

 

  We are fascinated with people. There aren’t enough tabloids, magazines, TV shows, to quench our appetite for more information about people. We can’t seem to learn enough. But, we can also become frustrated with people. I like the cartoon where Linus says, “I love mankind... It’s people I hate!” John Chalk once said, “Cannibals aren’t the only ones who get fed up with people.” Perhaps some of us have felt or even said, “I love the church, but can’t stand the people!” Ever had thoughts like this? Of course we have! People can be very frustrating.

 

  However, know this: Our greatest fulfillment in life can be found in people. A teacher of the Law asked Jesus what was the greatest commandment? Remember what Jesus told him? Love God with all your heart, mind, body and soul.” But Jesus didn’t stop there. The second commandment was love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus is telling us that nothing in life is more important than how we treat people. You may be thinking, which is more important, loving God or loving people? John says the way we demonstrate our love for God is by the way we treat people around us. For if a man says, I love God, and hates his brother, he is a liar.” Jesus contended that how we treat one another is how we treat Him. As often as you do it unto the least of these, you do it to Me.”

 

Listen, Jesus came showing us how to love one another.

 

  The love of Jesus was observant. Jesus saw people; not their sin, not labels, certainly not the color of their skin, their religious convictions, or their prejudices. Jesus saw people and their needs. In John chapter nine, the Jewish community saw a blind sinner. The Apostles saw a theological question "Who sinned this man or his parents?" But Jesus saw a blind man in need of sight. In the City of Jericho the crowds saw a tax collector to despise and hate. Jesus saw a potential child of God that could be forgiven. When we look at people, do we think: She’s divorced, they’re Mormon, he’s Catholic, they're Islamic, liberal, rich, etc? It’s possible to become so focused on labels that we lose sight of the people behind the labels. What happened when Jesus looked past the labels? A blind man was healed; the glory of God was demonstrated; salvation came to Zacchaeus and his house. We are not likely to teach others, if we will not try to understand where they are in life and how they feel. God help us to see others through the eyes of Jesus… Amen?

 

  The love of Jesus was compassionate. In Mark chapter five, a man came covered with leprosy. He fell to the ground begging Jesus for help: “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man, and immediately the leprosy left him. Mark says, “Jesus was moved withcompassion.” In Matthew nine, Jesus had compassion on the crowds because they were like sheep without a shepherd, so he taught them. In chapter fourteen, His compassion resulted in the sick being healed.

 

  Genuine compassion is getting involved in the lives of others. James says that just a “go, keep warm and be well fed” faith is dead. But pure religion is caring for orphans and widows. I want you to note that Jesus touched the leper. Are there some lepers where we work, in our church, school, in our family? Are we willing to compassionately touch them?

 

  The love of Jesus is forgiving. In John chapter eight, Jesus encounters the adulterous woman. Her accusers asked what should be done with her. Jesus could see through their trickery, shamed them into leaving her alone. Then… Sweet, sweet words to her ears… “Neither do I condemn you, go now and leave your life of sin.” Don’t allow anyone to tell you differently, religion without forgiveness is ugly! When we would rather point to the sins of others, rather than forgive them, our religion has turned ugly. This is the big sin of judging others. Judging is God’s work, not ours. I receive church bulletins and brotherhood papers that are one hundred percent accusative. There are no uplifting articles; no mention of God’s mercy and grace, no instructions on how to be saved, no mention of how to conform to the image of Jesus, or how to share Him with others, just page after page of pointing out the faults and failures of others, both people and churches. Ugly religion! Folk, Jesus came to seek and save the lost, to call sinners to repentance, to forgive us, save us. And there is nothing that will cause another to see Jesus in us quicker than our willingness to, like Jesus, forgive one another.

 

  God is love, and Jesus came to show us what genuine love looks like, and how it is demonstrated in our daily behavior. Now that we know, our challenge is to love as He loved. Amen?

 

— RANDALL CASELMAN