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  • Writer's pictureGODVERSITY

Friendship Day | Love Means What?

We hear all the time that we are to love each other, but what does that really mean? Today we are going to take a look at what Jesus might have meant by "loving each other as I have loved you."

Love is a complex word.

Ask 100 people what love means to them and you’ll probably get at least 50 different answers. Maybe more.

People say: I love my wife. I love my cats. I love cherry cheesecake. I love to garden. I love to paint. I love old movies. I love… well, you fill in the blank.

Love is a very complex word. These mentioned (and others), I would hope, are different types of love. Often love can be misplaced or misdirected.

And sometimes, people end up “looking for love in all the wrong places”.

The challenge that we face this morning is “what did Jesus mean by ‘love each other as I have loved you’?”

Maybe it’s helpful to look at what Jesus did and said prior to this statement.

Starting with John 3, we see that Jesus speaks to Nicodemus at night. Nicodemus was a teacher of the law and was nervous to talk to Jesus during the day, afraid that someone might see him. Jesus showed patience towards Nicodemus to answer his questions so that he might understand.

Maybe this is the type of love that Jesus was talking about. Patience.

In the very next chapter, Jesus reaches out to a Samaritan and talks to her. Amazingly, Jesus was talking to a Samaritan. Samaritans were the outcasts of that society. And it was prohibited for Jews and Samaritans to talk with each other.There was such a hatred between the two groups. But to make matters worst, Jesus talked to a Samaritan woman.

A Jewish man talking to a woman.Is tolerance the love that Jesus wants us to demonstrate?

Throughout many chapters in John’s Gospel, we read about the many healings that Jesus performed. There was a great deal of compassion that can be seen in the stories of Jesus’ healings.Compassion towards the weak and outcast.Loving others- compassion.

Moving forward, Jesus says “The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life.” Unlike us, the disciples didn’t have the luxury of know what the future would be like. We understand that Jesus would voluntarily die, but the disciples and other Jews couldn’t see that at the time.

Consider the vast amount of love that One must have to take the place of another and die for them. Finally, on the night that Jesus would be betrayed by Judas, the disciples went to an upper room. Before they sat down, Jesus took off His outer robe and used it to wash their feet.

His love that night was seen as a humbled servant.Once again we are reminded, Jesus says;

“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.”

In John’s Gospel, John uses two Greek words that both translate into the English word “love”.

  • The first Greek word is philos- which means a friendship type of love.

  • And the second Greek word the John uses is agape - which is more of an intimate type of love.

As John was writing this passage, he used both words, alternating between the two of them. The English translators translated philos as “friend” and agape as “love”.

Jesus knew that the type of love that we needed to show each other was more than just a friendship type of love; it needed to be a love that was genuinely truly.A love of patience and tolerance, a love of compassion and servanthood.

Jesus instructs us to love people in a different type of love than we are taught to love.I think it’s safe to say, that our society, our families and our friends, have taught us to be friends (philos) with each other. We tolerate some people and we show interest in others.

But Jesus’ command to each one of us is a little bit different than the philos type of love that we are taught. Instead, we are to love people with truly genuine patience and tolerance, compassion and servanthood. It goes against all of the norms that we have been taught, and it challenges us to strive to be better.

This morning, I fully acknowledge that I am nowhere close to demonstrating the type of love that Jesus wants me to demonstrate.

But I can promise you one thing, I have been challenged to try.Won’t you try with me…?

To begin to change from within; and then to begin to change our community, our country, and the world. We can do it because Jesus will guide us.

So what does LOVE mean to you? Share your thoughts with us via comments below. God bless you.


References: Neil Partington, Pastor First Congregational United Church of Christ - Wisconsin


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