What does it mean to love, not just in abstract terms, but in concrete, practical terms. We talk of love without definition and too easily equate it with strong feelings rather than practical realities. What does it really mean that God has called Christians to love one another?
The Bible points to the example of Jesus. Check out these scripture passages then discuss and share in your action group and among your friends these four ways of living a practical kind of love.
1 John 3:11-18
1 John 4:7-21
1. Love knows others. Jesus knew people in a profound way. People who met Him were often amazed that He knew the whole truth about them. Remember the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4? If we want to love as He did, we must always remember there is a depth of reality in everyone we meet. We need to discard our masks, our fears and distrusts and to listen with a heart full of love to what other people say and feel.
a. How easily do I relate to people? Why do I find it sometimes difficult?
b. How can I be more like Jesus in interacting with people?
2. Love accepts others. Often we fail to follow our Master in His accepting attitude. We talk about unconditional love, but in actual practice, we tend to either directly or indirectly put conditions to our giving unconditional love. St. Paul says, “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you.” (Romans 15:7)
a. What conditions do I usually make before accepting someone as my friend?
b. Do I meet people with a sincere welcome in my smile, regardless of their status in life, or their financial condition, or their undesirability in my eyes?
c. What, to me, makes a person acceptable to me?
3. Love forgives others. Forgiveness means loving despite of wrong. Love may see the sin in others, but love sees beyond what is offensive and loves anyway. The best example of this is the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) and we ask ourselves: which son am I? Would I be able to forgive as did the father?
a. How easily do I forgive others?
b. Do I make it easy for others to forgive me?
c. Am I able to forgive and forget?
4. Love serves others. In John 13 there is a portrait of the love of Jesus in action. Knowing that Judas has already betrayed Him, that Peter would deny Him, and that the others would soon all run away from Him, Jesus saw their dirty feet and washed them all. Think of this! He accepted them just as they were and forgave them and served their needs. Then He willingly died to pay the penalty of their sins. Such was the full extent of His love.
a. To what extent do I love and serve others?
b. Is my service done out of a forgiving, unconditional love … or do I have a ‘hidden agenda’?
c. How can I be more like Jesus in this regard?