We continue to encourage the NP Family to reach out to one another, connecting over coffee, inviting others to your house, sharing your life with one another. In fact, I want to challenge us to particularly reach out to others in our church family who aren’t part of your regular friendship circles. There’s a lot of amazing people, and each one of us is connected to one another through our common life in Jesus.
Which brings me to an important thought as we consider this teaching of Jesus. When Jesus commands us to “love our neighbour” our first reaction is often to begin considering just who our neighbour might be. We look around, maybe prayer about it, and then when our hearts have settled on who God is calling us to, we set out to love. Maybe it’s an act of kindness. Maybe it’s being present to them. Or maybe we go “BIG” and we re-order our lives, in some big effort of sacrifice.
I suppose when the day is done all that is good. And maybe, even just a little, the Kingdom has come just a little bit more. But I think what’s missing, at least for me, is the inner work of God’s grace at work in me, and then through me. What I mean is, when people like you and me muster up the energy and begin to focus in on love often do it out of a sense of our own strength. Like a reno project or a P90X workout. But that’s not the “easy yoke” that Jesus was talking about. Loving our neighbour and doing good deeds (something we are going to talk about a little more this Sunday) is not something that comes from us. It’s something that flows from us.
It’s the deeper work of the Good Life when who we desire to be—faith, hope, love, peace, joy—is the natural outflow of who we really are. The Good Life is not simply a command to be better. It’s a command to give up all else and follow Jesus. It’s the command to die to self so that nothing else interferes with the work of Jesus in us. It’s the command to hold on to God in love and faith and worship so that there rises up in us a (super-) natural outflow of love towards one another.
Here’s the thing. If we try to love others, we very well may do some wonderful things. But we also may find ourselves tiring of love. We may find ourselves getting irritated when they don’t love us back like we were hoping. And we may find ourselves feeling burdened under Jesus’ command. The secret then is in Jesus himself—“remain in me, and I will remain in you” (John 15:4). Out of this flows what Jesus calls the “easy yoke.” A joyful willingness to serve the other.
May we find ourselves this season, not just busying ourselves with family, friends, turkey, eating and football. But may we find ourselves deeply abiding in the wonders of God’s love. And then may we find our hearts overflowing with faith, hope, love, joy and peace.
Let us love one another, but only as we love the One who loves us with a greater love.