May 23, 2014
A friend of mine went to a concert to hear one of his favorite recording artists, Neil Diamond. His description of the music and the show were great. But more interesting to me was the story my friend shared about an interesting and surprising encounter that occurred that night.
Before the doors opened, he noticed a much younger man who really stuck out because he was covered with tattoos. He actually had large fangs and dripping blood tattooed on his lower lip and chin. At first my friend thought, “this guy scares me,” but then he wondered why someone like that would be at a Neil Diamond concert.
A few minutes later they were standing right next to each other, and when their eyes met, the tattooed guy offered the most genuine smile … and today’s scripture came into my friend’s mind. First he began asking him about his tattoos and then they talked about Neil Diamond. They both really loved Neil’s music and showmanship. The tattooed man was kind, polite and very reserved. When asked which tattoo was his favorite, he pointed to a little Christmas tree on the top of his hand. Despite the “fangs,” this tattooed man was no longer scary. Now I certainly don’t know his story … but I do know one thing. Like you and me, he needs God’s attention and love.
The Scriptures offer a multitude of “one another” commands concerning relationships with others: encourage one another, be devoted to one another, honor one another, live in harmony with one another, accept one another, instruct one another, serve one another, forgive one another … and on and on. The one at the core of them all is, “Love one another.”
In today’s scripture, Jesus tells us to love one another as He has loved us. Of course, Jesus’ love is greater than we can ever imagine having or displaying to anyone … but He is telling us to follow His example. Jesus loves us unconditionally and He wants us to love others unconditionally … not based on personality, looks, behavior or even feelings. Loving unconditionally doesn’t mean we give them everything they want. But our actions should be based on their needs for growth, not our needs for comfort.
Jesus loved with His actions, humbling Himself, coming to earth as a baby, growing and living among us, suffering the indignities and torture of the cross, demonstrating the depth of His love in ways words could not begin to explain. Jesus wants us to love unconditionally too, demonstrating love through actions … even when we don’t “feel” like it.
Today, ask God to help you see the tattooed person in your life through His eyes. Ask Him to help you love this person even if he or she doesn’t “deserve” it. Then step out in faith and love through your actions. As we in the family of God demonstrate our love for each other, even as Jesus demonstrated His love for us, others will “know we are His disciples.” Our love for one another can help draw them to see and accept the perfect love of Jesus. Whether you love the different(or even sinning) person God put in your life or you condemn them is your decision, so choose well.
Dear Father God, help me to love others in the way You love me. Help me to love unconditionally. Help me to demonstrate my love with actions … even when I don’t feel like it. Allow me to be more humble to the Holy Spirit’s teaching and to apply Your instruction to my relationships more intentionally. Thank You for loving me unconditionally. Thank You for demonstrating your love in such marvelous ways. I pray this and all prayers in the name of the One who loved through his actions, Jesus Christ; and all God’s children say – AMEN!
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. John 13:34-35