A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
John 13:34-35 (King James Version)
Today is Valentines Day; a day set aside to observe love in all its facets. It’s a day when schoolkids pass out Valentines cards in class whilst having treats. It’s where children hand-make cards for Mom and/or Dad. It’s a time where we get a little present for that person we either admire or have a crush on. Later, it’s dinner at the fanciest place you can (or hope to) afford with your date; with either a movie, play, concert or dance along with it. Then eventually, with that “special someone,” it’s intimate time together. And like many a hominid, I’ve been through the whole spectrum.
However, why should we love? I mean, why should we risk the one emotion that carries the risk of the biggest hurt? I too have been hurt by ones that I thought loved me; and God knows I wanted no part of love (possible future post). I’ve seen friends and loved ones who hoped that special someone would be just that; however they wound up not being so special. I’ve seen people in churches serve out of love only to be betrayed by the very people (or pastor) they serve. We love others and try to see the good in them, only to be hurt by the bad in them.
Love compels us to act in ways when our human nature says “No!”. You have the abused spouse, who cares for their abuser after he/she becomes invalid and can’t care for him/herself. You have the spouse who’s cheating spouse ends up with cancer of their sexual organs-killing their sex life altogether, yet still cares for because he/she’s disabled thanks to the illness. You have children whose parents were cold and aloof, caring for same parents in nursing homes or hospices. You have parents loving unappreciative children and still providing for them. You have people of color reaching out to racists. You have women (and men) reaching out to sexists (of both genders). The list is endless…
Why should we love-not just for today but every day? Why should I give my heart and soul to those who may use them for toilet paper? Why should I reach out in love when I’ve been left alone? Tina Turner said it well in “What’s Love Got to Do With It”; as J. Geils Band said it even earlier, “Love Stinks”. If I were to look at the pain that’s been associated with love, I would say solitude is the better way to go (like my cat in the above photo).
If we look at Jesus’s words in today’s text, we find our answer. Jesus gave a new commandment to his disciples: love one another. What makes this commandment interesting is that it was the first Divinely-ordained commandment since the time of Moses. Also, Jesus gave this commandment during the Passover meal on the night he knew he was to be betrayed by Judas and denied by the other 10 disciples. Despite the trials that Jesus would soon face, he commanded them to love one another.
Why? Because Jesus loved his disciples. Despite all their issues, Jesus loved them and had a heart for them-even for Judas. Plus that, Jesus loved the people; demonstrated through his healing, teaching, and caring ministry. Jesus loved the unlovable in his day: the demon-possessed; the lepers; an adulterous woman; a polyandrous wife; tax collectors; “sinners”; prostitutes; foreigners; etc. Jesus called for that same love to be in his disciples. Jesus knew after his death, he would return to God; and his posse would have to be the “ambassadors” of the King/Queendom of Heaven. Not only would they have to demonstrate that love to the world, they would have to love each other since they’re all that each other had. And in the end, people will know that these disciples are Jesus’s disciples because of their love.
Why should we love? Because Jesus did. And just like his disciples, he calls us to love as well. Despite whatever hurts, betrayals, etc we face we love anyhow. Jesus loves us despite how we treat him in our weak moments; and he doesn’t stop loving us. Even greater, God loves us-despite all our mess.
I hope this helps this Valentines Day. As you take time to enjoy your day-with another or by yourself-remember Jesus’s words. And even if you’re by yourself wondering why should you love-remember Jesus’s words. It might be hard as hell, however we’re called to love one another.
(Image: that gray ball o’ fur is my cat, Shadow)