I’ve been talking about the incarnation and the two laws, and placing the concept of love at the center of Christianity. There are those who think that preaching love is somehow a weak form of Christianity, and a soft form of ethics. “All you need is love” is not regarded as a particularly profound message. “There’s lots more to it than just love,” I’ve been told.
But I don’t think so. I think love requires some definition, because not everything we call love actually is. There are lots of details required to implement love. But love is the key, and love is anything but easy.
My pastor this morning referred to the “cliche of ‘What Would Jesus Do?'” And indeed WWJD has become a cliche, with just about anything you might want to justify being explained as, of course, precisely what Jesus would do. And in practice WWJD has become something of a cliche, and unfortunately, in general people claim that Jesus would do whatever it was they wanted to do anyhow.
But what would Jesus actually do? Well, we can get some idea from the gospel of John. (This message is scattered throughout scripture, but I’m using the passage in which it is most clearly stated.) Jesus gave up his life for his friends. And then he gave a command:
12This is my command, that you love one another just as I loved you. 13Nobody has greater love than this, that he lays down his life for his friends. 14You are my friends if you do that which I command you. — John 15:12-14 (TFBV, or see the CEV using BibleGateway.com)
What would Jesus do? Well, he did give his life for his friends. And he did provide that to his disciples as a definition of love, of the love that they were to carry out.
Now which is easier?
- Believe a set of doctrines so that despite whatever you may do, you will still be saved and live eternally?
- Put your trust in God and let him transform your life so that you exemplify this love, that is exemplify what Jesus would do?
I think the easy road out is option ‘a’. We would really rather not be confronted with what Jesus actually would do in most circumstances.
But that, I believe, is the challenge of the gospel.