I played football all through my junior high and senior high school years. I really had fun and learned a lot about team or being a part of a community that has one purpose. I remember one rainy night, we were playing Ozark. We had been backed up about 15 yards outside our goal line and it was time to punt. Our coach called a fake where I received the ball and slipped it under the legs of another running back. I ran the right play but all the blocking and the other running back went the opposite way. I was tackled immediately. An example of what happens when we all aren’t doing what we are supposed to do.
The community of believers, the church, is much the same way. Jesus says in John 13:34 that he’s given us, his disciples, a new command to love each other just like He’s loved us. The Greek word used there is agape which means unconditional love…no strings attached. Jesus says the world will know we are followers of Jesus when we love unconditionally.
Agape means “I love you in spite of…”. In spite of the hurtful words you said or the way you treated my spouse. In spite of you neglecting my children by not inviting them or in spite of the lifestyle you choose instead of what I think you should have chosen.
You see, that is how Jesus loves you. He loves you in spite of the sin in your life. He loves you in spite of the poor decision making that has plagued you. He loves you in spite of you being you. Paul reminds us of that in Romans 5 where he says, “God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.”
So he calls us to imitate him and when we do, the world will take notice. They will see the beautiful story of Jesus through our actions and words. “Love people as I have loved you.” When we decide to love no matter what, then we know God and our life becomes a beautiful representation of how we have been loved by a beautifully risen Savior.