Sermon Summary, 3/4/18, “”What Does Love Require of Us?” (Mt 25:31; Gal 5:6)
We’re closing out the “Brand New” series, today, “Brand New Love.” The premise of the entire series is that the arrival of Jesus signaled the end of the Temple Model (ancient religious practices) and ushered in something “Brand New.” A Brand New Covenant in his sacrifice; a New Command (Love one another); a New Ethic (which begs the question “What does love require of us?”); and a New Movement of the Body of Christ. Unfortunately, we have reestablished much of the old and just sprinkled a little Jesus on top (See previous sermon summaries).
One of the key aspects of the old is that the Temple Model is “Me-Centered.” Me, about me. We looked previously as Sacred Places and used St. Peter’s Basilica as an example. Marvelous place. But did you know it was commissioned because Pope Julius II wanted a burial place? Me-Centered. And we have made Sacred Texts about “Me,” interpreted by Sacred Men, controlled by Sacred Men; and the Reformation weaponized Sacred Texts to be used against one another. Again, all about “Me.”
Jesus changed all that. He signaled an end to the “Me” model. It is no longer about “you,” but about the “you beside you.” The “You beside You!” It is based on a new command: “Love one another.” (John 13:34) And it begs the question, “What does love require of us?”
Interesting to me the way Jesus presented the “Great Commandment.” (Mt 22:34-40) He was asked, “Teacher, what is the greatest commandment?” Jesus answered with the verses that every Jew prayed twice daily. (Deut 6:4-5) Can’t you see their heads nodding in agreement? Jesus creates authority with his answer. Then and only then does he say, “The second is like it, you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Do you suppose he wanted to say the greatest commandment is all about the “You beside you” all along? Could very well be.
We find “Loving your neighbor” throughout the NT. James calls it the “Royal Law.” I like the way Paul puts it best of all: “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” (Gal 5:6)
“What does love require of you?” First, love is not a feeling. Love is something we do. I’ve come to make a Lenten Tradition of re-reading the classic, In His Steps, written is 1896 with 30 million sold around the world. It is the source of the question, “What would Jesus do?” Maybe that’s 19th Century language. Maybe in the 21st Century, in everything we think, say, and do, we ask the question, “What does love require of us?” If we do, it will change us. It will change our families. It will change our communities. It will change the world. Proactively, ask the question in everything we think say or do, “What does love require of me?’ You will become ‘Brand New.” Amen.