While I drive to work or on road trips, I often study the Bible. Interspersed with appropriate readings of chapters from the King James Bible I listen to Dr. J. Vernon McGee’s five-year series, Thru The Bible. For most part I have found listening to McGee’s explanations edifying, but sometimes he leaves me confused, and this post is about one such instance. McGee did not think Christians are suppose to love everyone quite the same way. Perhaps by the time I get to his explanation of the Book of Revelation I will understand why McGee believed that, but now I don’t. I just know what McGee said set me to thinking.
In OF WHAT IS TOM AFRAID?, we considered what Christ Jesus primary command for us. He wants us to love each other as He loved us.
Can we love each other as Jesus loved us? Considering how we closed OF WHAT IS TOM AFRAID?, I wonder. We linked to a series of posts at that analyzes this passage in minute detail.
1 Corinthians 13:3-8, 13 New King James Version (NKJV)
3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.
4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.
13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
Because 1 Corinthians 13 defines Christian love so well, agape, 1 Corinthians 13 is one of the most Bible’s beloved and studied chapters. So perhaps we should not be surprised how many posts devoted to it. Here are the remainder.
Nevertheless, in spite of the length of His Word and all our careful analysis, Jesus still makes this standout promise.
Matthew 11:25-30 New King James Version (NKJV)
Jesus Gives True Rest
25 At that time Jesus answered and said, “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes.26 Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight. 27 All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. 28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
Jesus promises us rest, an easy yoke, a light burden. If His primary command is to love each other as He loved us, then it must be possible to obey His command, but easily?
So what are the alternatives? Well, here are some of them.
- Jesus wants us to love everyone.
- Jesus wants us grow in love. As we grow as Christians, we should be able to love more people more deeply.
- Jesus wants us to love as best we can in a fallen world. Only when His Kingdom comes will we be able to love as He loved.
- Jesus only wants us to love our Christian brothers and sisters.
- Jesus only wants us to love the elect (the chosen people).
- Jesus only wants us to love those we can love.
- Jesus want us to love everyone, but He only wants us to demonstrate our love to those who can and will accept our love.
- Jesus only wants us to love the people He loves.
- Jesus only wants us to love the people He tells us to love.
- Jesus only wants us to love the people who cross our path.
- Jesus only wants us to love good people.
Are there more alternatives? I suppose so, but these will do for the time being. What I expect to do in future posts is consider what the Bible says about each of these alternatives.
Obviously, the series considers some of these questions, but the focus here will be slightly different. Consider what Rob Barkman says in his summary.
Keep in mind, the outstanding characteristic of Godly love is a willingness to sacrifice oneself for the beloved. The Apostle Paul reminds us of this basic principle in Galatians 2:19-20…
For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.
Through the testimony of the law, the lost individual sees their need of a Savior. As the lost one comes to Christ, he is made dead to the law (no longer under the penalty of the law) and given a new life of service to God.
As Barkman suggests, we have one more alternative.
- Jesus wants us to love each other in a way that honors Him.
Since I am still somewhat puzzled about this matter, I welcome advice and suggestions.