Loving Like Jesus
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Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.—Ephesians 5:21
I’ve been on a long quest to know how the Ideal Model of Love could rub off on my imperfect life. And here’s what I’ve learned: Loving like Jesus is more obtainable than you might imagine. His teaching and example reveal at least five distinct and practical qualities of His love:
If you want to love like Jesus, you’ve got to …
- become more mindful—less detached;
- become more approachable—less exclusive;
- become more graceful—less judgmental;
- become more bold—less fearful;
- become more self-giving—less self-absorbed.
Is this an exhaustive list of how Jesus loved? Of course not. But it’s a way to get an earthly handle on this heavenly ideal of love. …
I’m optimistic about getting better at loving like Jesus. Why? Because this love isn’t illusive. It isn’t pie-in-the-sky. It isn’t out-of-reach nor relegated to untouchable saints. It’s real. Jesus gives us practical steps to love in extraordinary ways. He calls us to embody these five qualities. Are they difficult? You bet. But not insurmountable. Will you and I fail in living them out? Absolutely. But don’t be discouraged. For it’s in our failed attempts that we learn to better travel the most excellent way.—Les Parrott2
Love is like a stream. Some days it flows and rushes, for there is plenty. On other days it trickles, and you can see it bouncing against the unseen rocks. But even when love is dry and has lost its flow and lies nearly empty on the muddy bottom, there is more love to come.
We remember how Jesus loved, how He forgave, and how He reached out to show He cared. By using Jesus as the source of love, we can fill up the stream again. Life has the extra dimension found in Jesus Christ. He is the authority on love. Jesus loves when love is hard. He loves when love is rejected. He loves when love makes little sense. Jesus loves when others would quit. Jesus loves when others are ugly. Jesus loves when others are cold. Jesus loves when others are unworthy.
And when we feel that love has dried up, we reach out to Him and learn to love again.—Author unknown
A group of businessmen were late for their plane and were rushing through the airport when they bumped into a blind girl who was selling apples to waiting passengers. They got to the gate just in time, went to the entrance of the plane when one of them, a Christian, felt terrible about what they had done to the young blind girl.
He told his friends to go on and that he would catch the next flight because he had to go back and check on the girl. They protested, but he had been so moved by their selfishness that he could not think of leaving without offering at least to help.
When he got back to the terminal, there was the girl trying desperately to gather her apples. The young Christian businessman knelt down and told the girl that he was sorry and that he would help pick them up for her.
When they had completely picked up all the apples, he took out his wallet and paid for a few of the apples they had bruised. He apologized to the girl and began to turn away when the young blind girl asked a question he never forgot. “Mister, are you Jesus?”—Retold by Jim Fryer
In John 13:34 Jesus taught, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” Then He added, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”3 How do we do this? What does it mean to love one another?
The “one another” in these verses is a reference to fellow believers. A distinguishing mark of being a follower of Christ is a deep, sincere love for brothers and sisters in Christ. The apostle John reminds us of this fact elsewhere: “He has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.”4
In giving this command, Jesus did something the world had never seen before—He created a group identified by one thing: love. There are many groups in the world, and they identify themselves in any number of ways: by skin color, by uniform, by shared interest, by alma mater, etc. One group has tattoos and piercings; another group abstains from meat; yet another group wears fezzes—the ways people categorize themselves are endless. But the church is unique. For the first and only time in history, Jesus created a group whose identifying factor is love. Skin color doesn’t matter. Native language doesn’t matter. There are no rules about diet or uniforms or wearing funny hats. Followers of Christ are identified by their love for each other.
The early church demonstrated the type of love Jesus was talking about. There were people in Jerusalem from all over the known world.5 Those who were saved got together and immediately began meeting each other’s needs: “All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.”6 This was love in action, and you can be sure it made an impression on the people of that city.
Jesus’ statements in John 13:34–35 raise a couple of other questions that may be good to answer. First, how does Jesus love? He loves unconditionally,7 sacrificially,8 with forgiveness,9 and eternally.10 At the same time, Jesus’ love is holy—characterized by transcendent moral purity—because He is holy.11 The culmination of Christ’s amazing love for us is His death on the cross, burial, and bodily resurrection.12 Believers are to love each other like that.
Second, how then can the believer in Christ love as Christ loved? The believer in Christ has the Holy Spirit living within him.13 By obeying the Spirit, through the Word of God, the believer can love like Christ does. He shows that unconditional, sacrificial, forgiving love to fellow believers, but it doesn’t stop there. He also shows the love of Christ to friends, to family members, to coworkers, etc.14 Even enemies are the recipients of Christ’s love.15
Christ’s love displayed through the believer is unlike the “love” generated by the flesh, which can be selfish, egotistical, unforgiving, and insincere. First Corinthians 13:4–8 gives a wonderful description of what Christ’s love will be like in and through the believer who walks in the Spirit.
People don’t naturally love with a 1 Corinthians 13-type love. To love like that, there must be a change of heart. A person must realize that he is a sinner before God and understand that Christ died on the cross and rose again to provide him forgiveness; then he must make the decision to accept Christ as his personal Savior. At that point he is forgiven by Christ and receives God’s gift of eternal life—in fact, he becomes a participant in the divine nature.16 In Christ he knows that he is genuinely loved by God. The new life the believer receives includes a new capacity to love like Christ loves, for the believer now has living within him the unconditional, sacrificial, forgiving, eternal, and holy love of God.17
To love one another is to love fellow believers as Christ loves us. Those who love like Christ in the Holy Spirit’s power will give evidence that they are disciples, or learners, of Jesus Christ.—From gotquestions.org18
Have you ever let Me down? Have you ever fallen short? Have you ever failed? Yes. But have you also grown through the failures, learned to stand back up after falling, and come to love Me more through the times that you have disappointed Me and let Me down? If so, you are a success to Me, and there is much more success ahead.
Lift others up in the way that I have lifted you up; forgive others as I have always forgiven you; challenge others to press on as I have challenged you; encourage others in the way that I have encouraged you; inspire others with the inspiration I have given you; comfort others with the comfort that you have received from Me; believe in others as I have believed in you; love one another as I have loved you.
Remind your loved ones that they can be strong by faith, even when they don’t feel strong. They can make it with My help, even when they feel exhausted. They can overcome, even when they think they have already lost. They can try again, even when they have failed. They can love, even when their hearts are broken. They can smile and even laugh through their tears. They can make it, even when the odds are against them. Let them know that you believe in them, just as I believe in you.—Jesus, speaking in prophecy
Published on Anchor August 2019. Read by Jerry Paladino.
Music by Michael Dooley.
3 Verse 35.
4 1 John 4:21.
5 Acts 2:9–11.
6 Acts 2:44–45.
7 Romans 5:8.
8 2 Corinthians 5:21.
9 Ephesians 4:32.
10 Romans 8:38–39.
11 Hebrews 7:26.
12 1 John 4:9–10.
13 1 Corinthians 6:19–20.
14 Ephesians 5:18–6:4; Galatians 5:16, 22–23.
15 See Matthew 5:43–48.
16 2 Peter 1:4.
17 Romans 5:5.