Friday, April 29, 2016

Love One Another

By Colleen O’Sullivan

“It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us not to place on you any burden beyond these necessities, namely, to abstain from meat sacrificed to idols, from blood, from meats of strangled animals, and from unlawful marriage.  If you keep free of these, you will be doing what is right. Farewell.”  (Acts 15:28-29)

Jesus said to his disciples:  “This is my commandment:  love one another as I love you.  No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.  You are my friends if you do what I command you.”  (John 15:12-14)

Lord, as I call to mind your great love for me, may I be filled with gratitude and the desire to share your love with others.

In the Book of Acts, we read how the fledgling church struggled to put together a blended family.  Some of the early Christians were Jewish and some were Gentiles.  One of the greatest points of contention was circumcision.  Many who were Jewish believed that Gentile men needed to be circumcised before they could be considered followers of Christ.  There was so much confusion that the Apostles and presbyters, along with the whole Church, decided to write a letter and have it hand delivered to the churches made up primarily of Gentiles.  The final decision was that circumcision was not required and it would be enough if followers of the Way observed certain dietary laws and refrained from unlawful marriages.  Today, even the dietary laws have long gone by the wayside.

What hasn’t changed, though, is what Jesus told his closest friends as they were gathered around the table after the Last Supper.  To be one of Jesus’ friends, we need to love each other as Jesus loves us.  (Following dietary laws might be much easier.)

Most of us would be quick to say we know Jesus loves us.  But, when pressed to articulate exactly how Jesus shows us his love, we may not have so ready an answer. Many of us don’t spend much time reflecting on our lives and where in our lives we have seen and felt Jesus’ presence.  It’s a whole lot easier to be a person for others and to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters if our own hearts are bursting with gratitude for all that Jesus has done for us than it is to try and summon up the energy from within without that awareness of being blessed.

Spend some time today looking back over your life and identifying times when you have experienced Jesus’ unbounded love for you.  Remember it’s not necessarily only the good times that count. Even hurts you’ve suffered, sins you’ve committed, or disappointments you’ve felt may have been the opportunities Jesus has used to show you how much he loves you. 

Praying each day with gratitude for one blessing you have experienced in the past 24 hours, and doing so day after day, is another way to become more mindful of Jesus’ infinite love for us.

A grateful heart disposes us to more readily love one another. 

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