Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Love who?!

May Teen Connection Message:

In Matthew 22, Jesus is asked by the Pharisees to give what the greatest of all the commandments is. The Pharisees were a bunch of religious know-it-alls, so I’m sure they were expecting an answer that had something to do with giving money, or not working on the Sabbath, or not murdering, or remembering all of the Jewish holidays. But we all know that Jesus never gives the answers we expect, so here it is from Matthew 22:37-39 (The Message//Remix):
‘Love the Lord your God will all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’

I’d like to focus this message on that second part: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’

What does Jesus really mean here? Is he saying to be nice to others? Does he want us to hold the door open for the people behind us? Fix meals for hungry people? Respect our parents and teachers? Well, obviously, he does (we can double check this from other verses), but I think Jesus is going a lot further here.

I Wikipediaed the word agape (which you’re not allowed to do for school, but I am – since no one is grading this). Agape is a Greek word that really gained popularity in the early church writings. Authors used it to demonstrate “divine, unconditional, self-sacrificing, active, volitional, and thoughtful love.” Agape also happens to be the word that Jesus uses in Matthew 22 when teaching us what the greatest commandment ever is! So, Jesus isn’t simply telling us to be nice, to hold the door open, to feed the poor, and to respect our parents and teachers.

He’s telling us to voluntarily sacrifice our selfish desires in order to demonstrate God’s love to people who do NOT deserve it! I know: it’s radical. That’s the thing about Jesus. He wasn’t a luke-warm, mediocre Christian. He was extreme! Radical! Today we’d probably think He was cool, but a little bit crazy.

Here’s the Message: Jesus wants us to be a little bit crazy with Him. He wants us to radically love others in a way that allows them to undeniably recognize the power of His death and resurrection.

Challenge: Think of one person in your life who doesn’t deserve your love. Do one thing for that person that shows him Christ’s love.