You know, lately I’ve been doing some thinking. It seems that in my lifetime, I don’t remember a time when the moral imperatives that Jesus announced demanded more of our attention and action. Consider this one…
Jesus said, “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you love one another. By this all will know that you are my disciples that you love one another.” (John 13:34-35)
In our news sources, in the words of our elected officials, even those in the highest offices, and in so many comments of every day people in social media, all around us there are stunning examples of insults, disrespect and indecent remarks that pass for civic discourse. It feels like we are living in a suffocating atmosphere of hostility, antagonism, vindictiveness and viciousness. It’s not just that people seem to have forgotten their manners. Too many people practice the poisonous arts of verbal combat and too few take to heart the clear direction of Jesus to “Love one another.”
It takes a finely honed and carefully cultivated moral character to love one another, especially when there is not unanimity of opinion. But this is precisely the moral character that Jesus commanded us to cultivate in our hearts and souls and requires of us in times like the ones we live in now. At the moment, loving one another is made even more difficult by vile insults, scurrilous accusations and wild and woolly insinuations intended to belittle, demean and invalidate one another.
It is also instructive to observe that Jesus did not suggest that we pattern our words and our personal conduct after elected officials, bottom feeding TV personalities or so called “friends” on Facebook. We don’t get good models of loving conduct out there. Insults are not loving. Neither is brash, hurtful opinionating. Neither is the reckless rush to judge others. Remember that Jesus also said, “Take the log out of your own eye so that you can see to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” Jesus did, however, give us a model for love. He said, “As I have loved you, so you love one another.” Jesus’ love for us is the model for our love for each other. That is a pretty high bar, but Jesus commanded nothing less. And we can do it. Lucky for me that we don’t need to be theologians to know which way to choose when given the choice between mirroring Jesus or mimicking some TV talking head or politician. Jesus’ sets a high bar, but reaching for it is the right choice.
There is a reason Jesus commanded us to love one another. There is a reason why loving one another is so important to him. The reason is that human life is better when we understand and practice love and human relationships are degraded when we don’t. Love one another. Today. Right now. It is such a simple phrase. A child does it instinctively. It takes an adult to unlearn it. If we do not practice love when to practice it is most challenging, most counter intuitive, most risky, we end up doing more harm than good.
By Peter J Miano