A sermon by Michael Pahl on October 20, 2019, called “Living Out the ‘One Anothers.'” This is the first in a five-part series called “One Another.”
Here is a written excerpt from the introduction:
Even if we sort through all our cultural language about “love,” and we try to describe what “love” as a virtue means, even “love” as a Christian virtue, we can still come up with a few different ideas.
Many imagine the Christian virtue of “love” to be mere tolerance. They imagine “love others” to mean “live and let live,” a sort of “Whatever floats your boat, as long as you let me float mine.”
Others imagine this love to be a kind of affection, good feelings toward others. “Love others,” then, means “Get rid of all that negativity—good vibes for everyone!”
Still others imagine this Christian virtue called “love” to be basic decency. “Be nice to each other, use your manners, be polite”—this is what it means to love other people.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with tolerance, or affection, or basic decency. In fact, these are a bare minimum for being human together, I would think. They are bottom-line attitudes and behaviours for a functioning human society.
So, these can be important aspects of a virtuous love. But tolerance, or affection, or basic decency are not, in themselves, the Christian virtue of “love.” They are not on their own the love that Jesus taught, the love he lived. Jesus’ love transcends mere feelings of affection, and it’s exponentially harder than simple decency or even basic tolerance.
People don’t get crucified for being nice.
You see, Christian love is not just any love, not even just any positive idea of love, but it is specifically Jesus’ way of love. This is crucially important, and it’s actually really helpful. It gives us a guide for understanding what “love” is, what it looks like.
Saying that “Christian love” is “Jesus’ way of love” points us to Jesus, and says, “Listen to how Jesus talked about love. Look at how Jesus loved others. Then walk in that same Spirit of Jesus, to love like that.”
The New Testament has another way of helping us get at what “Christian love,” this “Jesus’ way of love,” looks like in real life. It’s the language of “one another.”