As I thought about that weekend, I thought about the love that was shared and which flowed throughout the many celebrations that took place. In thinking about that, I was drawn to John 13:31-35, where Christ commands us to love one another.
Homecoming is a time of celebration and love for each other. We think back about the good ol’ days and about friends still with us and those who are no longer with us. As we see each other again, we forget old grudges or things that may have led to fights in the past and recollect the good things. Homecoming is a feeling of love and memories that easily flood back to us as we gather together.
One of the things I asked the people of my churches that weekend was, “How will we continue to love those around us after feeling so much love and friendship during homecoming?”
Jesus gave us a new commandment, one which we all must obey, no matter how hard it may be: We are to love one another.
According to John 13:34-35, we are to embody God in Christ by loving one another. That is how people will truly know that we are Christians.
Recently, I read in one of my devotional materials about how the people of Thailand greatly love their king. Every Monday, the people of Thailand wear yellow, the king’s favorite color, out of love and admiration for the king. The devotional reminded the readers that we are to show our colors of allegiance to the King, Jesus Christ. We do this by loving one another, just as He has loved us.
Have any of us ever thought something bad about someone? How about ever looked at someone with hate or anger in our hearts? If we have any of this toward another whom God has created, then we cannot truly be called Christians or disciples of Jesus Christ. In order for us to be a true disciple, we have to love.
Each and every day, we are called to show love for Jesus by loving others. The Bible teaches us in 1 John 4:7-11 that God is love. When we love others, we are sharing God because He loves us and those we meet each day and He wants us all in His family. If we harbor anything in our hearts against another, God can not live there, and we are not truly His.
The Bible tells us in 3 John 11 to imitate what is good, not evil, for whoever does good is from God. When others look at us, do they see God or evil? It depends on whether we love them or we don’t.
Matthew 15:18-20 teaches us that what comes out of the mouth comes from the heart, and that is what defiles. Things like evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication (sexual relationship outside of marriage), theft, false witness and slander are the things that come from the heart. These are the things that defile people.
We are reminded in 2 John 5-6 that this commandment of loving one another is not new. Each of us wants to be loved in some way. But in order to be a disciple, we have to walk in love before the world and live it.
A question asked recently to the pastors of our conference was this: “What have you done with God’s love this week?” We all need to be able to answer this question if ever asked of us. How can we truly answer if we don’t love one another? What have we done in our lives to help one who is less fortunate than we are, or to help one we may call a brother or sister in Christ? We need to love all.
I tried to remind people at homecoming that as we continue to celebrate the rest of the weekend and love one another here, on that following Monday the holiday would begin to wind down and life would be back to the grind on Tuesday. I wanted to know where our love would be following homecoming. When we display Christ’s love for others, it’s more that just kindness or care for others. Showing Christ’s love is the most tangible way we show love for God.
I want to encourage each one who reads this, if you know this week you will be dealing with persons you find it hard to be with or around, ask God to enter into your heart, to give you peace and strength for dealing with those persons, but also to love them. For if there is even one inkling of something other than love in our hearts for all people, then God cannot reside there, and we need to ask God to help us cleanse whatever it may be that keeps us from loving one another. For I reminded the people at both churches, if we celebrate during our homecoming weekend with those whom we know and love, can’t we just imagine the day when we receive our homecoming celebration and Christ says, “Well done, my good and faithful servant”? He will not only announce it to us, but to all of heaven, and heaven will rejoice because we have went in this life and loved other as Christ has loved us.
Today, ask God to take whatever is in your heart, let Him have it and release you from it so that your heart may be filled with God’s love and grace to all. Don’t hesitate to ask Him to help you go and love the rest of the world the way He commanded, for He is waiting for you wherever you go.
Robert Amundsen is the pastor of the Evarts Congregational United Methodist Church and the Wallins United Methodist Church. He can be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org