Today’s post is not particularly clever. But it is more central and profound than any I’ve posted yet this year.
“Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet”, and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbour; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” (Romans 13:8-10).
Christmas. The celebration of the coming of Jesus. We celebrate His birth at Christmas, His death on Good Friday, and His resurrection on Easter … but, without His life-well-lived between His birth and death, there is no redemption. He is the only one who has ever fulfilled the Old Testament law … and, in doing so, was capable of laying His life down as a perfect sacrifice for our sins. Without God becoming man, and bring perfection to our human condition, we were lost. Now, through the man who fulfilled the law, there is salvation.
What gift do we bring to Jesus to celebrate the holiday? Today’s short passage from Romans 13 calls us to the one thing that trumps them all: Our engagement in the Jesus-like practice of fulfilling the law. We do this by loving one another.
Jesus loves us like no one has ever loved anyone. The one who personally crafts every beautiful human being never once thought an illicit, possessive, manipulative thought about another. The one who would be unjustly murdered never once holds a “you fool” thought about any of us. The one who created every earthly resource, and who could create whatever He wanted ex nihilo at any time, never took anything from anyone, and adopted a life of poverty.
Loving others means denying your own lustful desires, both in thought and deed, and instead showing honor to others, treating them as holy.
Loving others means denying the instinct to be angry with others, both in thought and deed, and instead offering mercy and forgiveness when wronged.
Loving others means denying our ceaseless pursuit of stuff, both in thought and deed, and instead rejoicing in the prosperity of our neighbor, and seeking to give rather than accumulate.
In short, Jesus loved us by completely mortifying those renegade desires that are part of our human nature. By getting things squared away internally, he was truly able to live sinlessly…and for the blessing of others. That is the Jesus who came, and He is also the example of what God is looking for in us:
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35).
Simple. Impossible? It seems like it. But, we can love, because He first loved us. He gifts us supernaturally to be able to do it. Yes, we can. Will we? I hope so…it’s how we will be marked as His disciples in 2014 and beyond.