don’t call me good

15 05 2012

I see dead people. Ok, mostly just their coffins, but I hear about a lot of dead people. And one thing I have learned is that anyone can be presented as someone who was lovely, and who loved everyone. Time and again I hear of people who would ‘do anything for anyone’, when really I think probably what they would actually do is anything for people they knew; anything for people they liked; anything for people they lived near; anything for people who were easy to get on with; anything for people when it doesn’t really cost a great deal. 

Like all of us, really. 

The love Jesus talks about in John 15 is greater, deeper, bolder than simply being good. We can all be good. Many people tell me they are good people. Mostly when the vicar they’ve never met comes round and they feel uncomfortable about not having set foot in church their daughter was ‘done’ in 1957. I am not interested in people being good. I have no time for good. It’s all very well, but it has no frame of reference, no benchmark except itself.

What I am interested in, and what Jesus is talking about, is love. Love that is more than a feeling or an emotion, more than something that wells up inside like when you’re watching a movie and the soundtrack swells and the slow-motion close-ups go out of focus and the world feels like an X-Factor backstory. Love, true love, involves cost, and a cost that doesn’t expect anything back in return. And to understand why, we need to look at Jesus. 

Jesus talks about love a bit like it is a river. Every river has a source, and for Jesus the source of love is the Father, that is, God. I have loved you, as my Father loved me. The Father loves, and his love is poured out into Jesus. So, Jesus loves. But he doesn’t do it all himself. He says remain faithful to me and obey my command that you love each other. The Father loves Jesus, Jesus loves us, and we in turn love each other. Love each other, as I have loved you.

My command is not to follow rules but to love. A love that begins and ends in self-giving, cost and sacrifice.  

So let’s not try to be good. Let’s try to be love. And not a blurry weepy weak and soppy love but love that stands up for the outcast, the untouchable and love that looks beyond me and my family and my club and my street, a love that isn’t just for the easy to love, the kind, the nearby, those who love us back, but a love that keeps on loving because it is a love that comes from Jesus, that comes from the Father.

With that love we can change the world. With that love we are changing the world. 

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10 responses

15 05 2012
willcress

i get what you’re saying about the being good to people you know and wotnot, but how would you put the love into practice? Do you mean we should feel the love which transcends any kind of practical application so more of a feeling rather than action? Or do you mean we should implement that love by looking at any person, known or unknown and be good to them because we love them without requiring anything back? Should we be actively seeking out people we don’t know to love them? STOP IT BRAIN! You know you cant cope with that level of detailed thinking…

16 05 2012
Kevin

The practical outworking often causes brain-ache! Love is a primarily an action not a feeling so it’s not (for me) about a transcending (or transcendent) feeling… but it is about taking opportunities to love when we can. For example, in this sort of context Jesus told the Good Samaritan parable, answering the question ‘who is my neighbour?’, i.e. who should I love. Answer, the person you least expect! So we try to be good to people – out of love – who ever they are, whilst being realistic that we are only human so are allowed to be tired and grumpy too!

16 05 2012
willcress

I would agree with that, but then doesn’t that boil down once again to being good to people? Or are you saying we should make more of an effort to be good to a wider spectrum of people irrelevent of social and economic factors and have no regard for what we could get back? Are we talking more about an unconditional mother love, for example that which i have for zach and hayden? But you’re saying we should have that for everyone? God would presumably be able to love us all as a father of us all, but i’m not sure as humans we would be up to that challenge and the only way to try would be to be good. I may be going in circles with that one! Thank goodness I don’t think too hard about the playgroup stories! 🙂

16 05 2012
willcress

LOL you are so regretting facebook friending me aren’t you!! 🙂

17 05 2012
Kevin

Not regretting at all! The love I am talking about is more than being ‘good’, or feeling an unconditional mother love, because it begins and ends in self-giving and sacrifice, so overcoming the ‘protecting my own’ instinct and looking first to the needs of others. Which of course can be done by anyone (can it?), but for this love begins with God, and not just a nameless entity called ‘god’ but God the Father, revealed through the Son and present by the Spirit. And that is what sets it apart, because it is a love that serves God, a love that comes from God, a love that is sustained by God, and a love that is submitted wholly to God. Or something like that!

17 05 2012
willcress

yeah fair play. self giving and sacrifice can be done to a certain extent and if you are single with no dependants it might be an option, but there is only so much sacrifice of yourself without sacrificing your kids. I wonder if anyones ever achieved it

17 05 2012
Kevin

But the challenge to us is that our kids are not the most important thing in the world. Currently they are society’s top ranking, but actually there are greater needs the world has. For example, my priority is to (try and) discern God’s will and follow it, trusting that he knows also the needs of my family. And we the family have to live with that, whether we are called to this area or another area!

Jesus’ love and will transcends our family, which can be hard to grasp and a conundrum to balance. Maybe after here we’ll be called to Tower Hamlets, maybe leafy Surrey, maybe India. What’s best for the kids? Hopefully a family following Jesus, trusting him and loving no matter where that is.

Hmmm, sounds easy, right?!

17 05 2012
willcress

it certainly doesnt! i think if thats the case, then you guys are never gonna turn me into a decent christian ‘good’ girl, but dont stop tryin LOL

18 05 2012
Kevin

Aha, so firstly, you are already very good – one of the loveliest and kindest people I know! And I am not interested in making good christian girls (or boys!), but in people following Jesus as best they can. Which is entirely different! I think.

22 05 2012
fran

Yes indeed you are one of the loveliest kindest people i know to and you have done all that without Jesus….imagine what you would be like with him!!! 😉

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