As we move towards Easter, we will be reminded of the last supper, where Jesus met with his disciples to celebrate the Passover. It was during this meal that he gave to them his new commandment, “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:35). Love, Jesus says, must be central to both the life of the Church and the mission of the Church.
As we know, the Church of Jesus Christ is first and foremost a community, not a building. A community of people who have discovered the love of God for themselves; a love that forgives, a love that welcomes, a love that heals. A community of people who belong together; loving, forgiving, welcoming and healing one another.
God the Father demonstrated this love by giving his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not die, but have everlasting life. God the Son demonstrated this love by willingly going to the cross on our behalf.
As disciples of Jesus, our role then, is not just to tell people about the love of Jesus, it is also to demonstrate to them the love of Jesus; to show the outcast and the sinner, by our actions, that they are loved by God. To be a disciple is to demonstrate to those within the Church, and those outside the Church ’I love you and I am committed to you. You belong.’
This love is a response of the heart and a demonstration of the heart of God. As disciples of Jesus we must recognise, as Ezekiel tells us, that our hearts need to be transformed from hearts of stone to vulnerable and loving hearts of flesh. And that, as he says, is a work of God’s Holy Spirit. (Ezek 36:26,27)
It is so easy for us as a Church to get so caught up in our structures and our systems that we lose sight of the call to love our neighbours as ourselves, and so caught up on the rights and wrongs of morality today that we forget that Jesus met with and welcomed the outcasts and sinners.
As we prepare for Easter, let us commit to loving one another as Jesus has loved us, and let us reach out to love our neighbours as we love ourselves.
Theophilus is the guy for whom Luke wrote the Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts. (Luke 1:3 and Acts 1:1) Theophilus means ‘Lover of God’ so, if you love God, it was written for you!