John 15b Testimony Part 2
Jesus also said, “My command is this: love each other as I have loved you.” Through this part of the passage we come to see that Jesus gives his disciples this one command to love each other. To love someone is more than just a physical or emotional gesture. It is sacrificial and unconditional. Usually it is not easy to be around someone who does not share the same interests as us, or whose character is kind of irksome, so we tend to distance ourselves from them. But in the church Jesus wants us to be close, not distant. He wants me to love a brother or sister even when I don’t want to. I would have to be willing to sacrifice my style and way of doing things for the sake of that other person.
In my last common life I thought it would be difficult to be around Rob. Sometimes he would be thoughtless in his words. Or Bao, who was more distant and combative. Yet, when I spent time with them and got to know them a little more in regard to their struggles, sharing precious moments together with them, I was really thankful to get a chance to have life together with them. I came to love and appreciate them. I know that I still have my character flaws and weaknesses and it can be sometimes hard to love me. But many brothers and sisters bore with me and still came close to me. Through Missionary John’s encouragements and rebukes, I could see that even when there were times I felt like giving up on myself, he would not let me fall. Or Missionary Grace who would be concerned for my physical well being, even when I felt ashamed to come to her about those matters. Still she took care of me with the heart of Jesus. Jesus was showing me his love through those events and instances.
On the other hand, many times I don’t think about loving Missionary John and Missionary Grace. I tend to think that they are already doing well, not having much trouble. Yet Missionary John always encourages us to pray for him in regards to his message, showing that he needs help too. This week when I heard they were going out to attend a conference, I thought about when Missionary John gave a ride to his shepherd, and I thought I would also offer my help in driving them. So I called him and asked. He humbly rejected but appreciated my efforts of love. To me, it was a small matter compared to what he has done for me. I pray that I would figure out how to love both of them. So far I am just praying that they would have a safe trip and would be recharged by God at the conference. I want to learn how to love others, even when it is challenging or goes against my normal way of living.
In marriage, there may be things that my wife and I do differently or with a different approach, but I see that instead of insisting my own way, I have to humble myself. There are times where I don’t want to wash the dishes, but when I think about how hard she works throughout the day, then I learn to serve instead of having complaints in my heart. This week when I taught group Bible study on John chapter 5, the invalid man, Missionary Grace mentioned how even in the marriage relationship, we like to blame our spouse, but God put us together to exercise love, not to blame each other.
This week I was taking a passenger to the airport, an older Chinese man with his family on their way to Las Vegas. As I was driving, he saw my ring and commented on me being married. I told him that it was recent, and then I asked him for any advice for a new married couple. He kind of leaned close to me and in almost a gentle whisper, his advice was, “Lower your expectations.” I was shocked by his statement, because it was actually sound advice. I could see that when I have high expectations that are then not met by my wife or by a brother or sister in Christ, then I feel disappointed and hurt. But when I lower my expectations, then it’s not too bad, and I can get over things quickly. I would not have to harbor any ill emotions, but still love. When the man and his family left the car, his final words to me were, “Be good to your wife.” When I told my wife this, she said to me, “I like him.” We both laughed. I could see that love is not some fairy tale or Disney interpretation, but it is real. It is about being willing to even lay down my own life for the sake of someone else’s.
When I think about it, this is how God’s work has gone on throughout Christian history. When there were some willing to lay down their life for others, the people who saw this love of God were surprised and entered into this new life. When love is cultivated in everyone in the church, it really becomes a wonderful place to be. I can see that our church is different. We may not have a lot of things or activities like other churches, but I can see that each person who comes to the church is cared for by a brother or sister. No one is invisible. Then we are also making efforts to show this love of Jesus to others through our conferences. It is really amazing. I pray that the love fellowship among us may grow all the more.
When we really love and think about how to build others up in the church, it really becomes a wonderful heavenly place where we’re so happy to be. And its true, in marriage lower your expectations. Its not Disney where everything’s always perfect. It’s two sinners coming together to struggle to do God’s work together. If you pin your hopes on your spouse you’re only going to get disappointed and bitter. But if you work to build them up then such real love for them can grow in your heart.
“No one is invisible.” That’s so glorious! In this world so many people are invisible, but when we have a shepherd who loves us and pays attention to us we are so blessed!
That’s a good reminder: Disney and fairy tales are not accurate! I should instead put my hope in God’s design and will, and above all, be willing to serve. This sacrificial love seems so unnatural, so unusual, but I always see it in the church so that I even take it for granted. Then when I run into the normal, selfish way of life in the world, it feels like a culture shock. How beautiful God’s people are as they obey the command to love one another. It’s better than a Disney movie! 🙂
Once I envied you guys who lived in common life with other disciples, now I’m not… hahaha
My struggle is to be a humble husband with low expectations. The lower my expectations, the more love I can show.