I command you to love each other.
John 15: 17, NLT
But baby, I wants to be loved.
Muddy Waters, I Want To Be Loved
My first quote comes from the Gospel of John. The second is from my favorite bluesman, the late Muddy Waters. There is nothing in this world that we crave as much as love .absolutely nothing. In the first quote, Jesus is not only telling his disciples to love one another, He is commanding them to do so. In the second quote, Muddy Waters is stating a universal need that all human beings experience the need to be loved. My quotes are perhaps backward, the first giving an answer to the second; but I believe they ultimately go together perfectly.
Not long ago I was driving my car into the local grocery store parking lot when a woman from my church walked directly into the path of my car. I drive slowly through parking lots just in case such a thing might happen, so I stopped as soon as I saw her. Well, she gave me this look like Big deal, who the heck are you? You MUST let me by you dirt-bag! No kidding, this is exactly what she said with one dirty look as she walked on by in front of my car. I couldnt believe it! This was someone I have known for a few years now, even so much as I have attended Bible studies in her home for two straight years. I kind of shrugged it off and parked the car and went inside the store. I did my shopping and while I did I passed this woman three times in the store. And each time she not only ignored me but actually acted like she either didnt see me or didnt even know me. By the third time it became obvious that she has something against me. Painfully obvious. It was sad because I remember many evenings at her house studying the Bible and having what I thought was good Christian fellowship. But now she will not speak to me, even at church. Her husband does, but she wont. To say the least, it is weird.
So for the longest time I have believed that she is the bad person. (And I am sure that most people who know me well enough would agree with me.) I must confess that I have been behaving like the un-loved martyr whenever I am around her. Like I am the victim because this woman, in my mind, cannot see me for the good and Godly person that I know I am, and wont give me the love that Jesus commanded her to give.
Oh how wrong I have been. When Jesus commanded us to love each other, He wasnt telling us to love only those who we know will love us back. He meant for us to love each other, regardless of their ability to love us back. It doesnt matter that others love us, what matters is that we do what our Lord commands us to. That is why I decided to include the quote from Muddy Waters. EVERYONE needs to be loved! Muddy says it in his song, but also mirrors the greatest need of every human being ever born in his words. It is the greatest fact of our human condition that we ALL need to love and be loved.
Jesus didnt just tell his disciples (us) that it is good, nice, or necessary to love one another. He commanded us to love one another. In the very spirit of His commandment, there is no such thing as a bad person. What I mean is that we have absolutely no excuse not to love someone. No excuse at all! Too bad if that person ignores us in the parking lot and gives us a nasty look; or continues to ignore us in the store. We must do our best to love that person anyways. And if that means we must put our feelings aside, so be it. Is this an easy commandment to obey? Are you kidding? It can be the most difficult one of all. But difficult or not, if we trust the Holy Spirit and just try, we can make progress toward what we know God already sees in us .His perfection.
Dear Jesus, we are not perfect in love as we know you are always perfect; yet we strive to be as you are. Please give us the strength and power that we need to do everything you ask of us. Help us to love those we have such a difficult time loving. Amen