Scott, a junior in high school, is sitting in his room feeling sorry for himself. He is mad at his parents. He had wanted to borrow the car to go out on Friday night with a group of his friends, but his parents told him that they didn’t think it was a good idea. The more Scott’s parents sought out the specifics of where Scott and his friends were going and what they were planning on doing, the more Scott became frustrated. Eventually Scott blew up at them, yelling, “You just don’t trust me. You treat me like I’m ten years old!” Scott’s parents weren’t going to give in just to get Scott to stop pouting around the house.
Bill was an alcoholic. And his wife was tired of pretending that he wasn’t. Just because Bill could still function at work, and make things look “normal” when he had to, things weren’t normal at all! Bill didn’t think his wife saw that when there was company, he would sneak something more than just the beer that was in his hand.There was something serious going here. Bill’s wife wasn’t going to play the game anymore.
Barbara is having lunch with an old friend. As the two get talking about their families Barbara blurts out, “My son married a miserable, spoiled brat and I’ve had it. To tell the truth, I haven’t spoken to her since Christmas. And, you know what, I don’t care. Of course, I haven’t heard from my son either, and that bothers me, but her, I could care less! I’ve been treated poorly by that girl for the last time.” There was a pause as both women began eating their lunch. Then the friend said, “I don’t think you’re making a good choice here. These months of silence might not be the answer.”
Three scenarios. Rather common. The kind of thing all families deal with.
“I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.” One of the most famous quotations from the Bible. And often the most misunderstood.
When Jesus uses the word “love” here, he means it in a very specific way. He means love that acts in the best interest of the other person. It’s the love that isn’t focused on “what am I getting out of this…” It’s the love that leads to the Cross. And because of that love we are saved. Yet, this is the way Jesus commands us to love. Not an easy thing to do.
So, parents can’t give in to a pouting son. They have to do what’s best for him. A wife can’t look the other way in the face of her husband’s drinking problem, and a woman has to tell her friend to bite her tongue and do what is best for the family—-break the months of silence.
G. K. Chesterton, the famous British convert to Catholicism and great apologist for the faith was responding to critics who claimed that since Christianity had been around for so long, but hadn’t solved the world’s problems, it must be false.
Chesterton’s reply was: “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried.”
So, Jesus isn’t looking for us to water down this commandment about how we are to love. He wants us to take it seriously. And when we find it difficult to love in the way that he asks, we must turn to Him and ask for help. Christ asks us to bring the pain of our present moment and to surrender it at the foot of the cross, not once, but every day. Faith involves believing that God can take all that is broken and make everything new.