In John 13, Jesus tells his disciples that he is giving them a new command: that you love one another. What was so new about that command? This is an old command, not a new one. Bob put the emphasis on who we love. In this way, it was certainly a new command.
The story of the Good Samaritan makes the point well. In this story, a man from a hated group (Trump-supporters, Hillary-supporters, Ethnic/Racial minority: whomever you find most difficult to love and respect) becomes the courageous protagonist who helps at great cost to themselves. The parable has become the paradigm of love for the church. Your neighbor can be anyone, and in fact is everyone you come in contact with. No one ought to be outside of our scope of love and care.
The rubber hit the road for the church immediately as they tried to figure out what to do with Gentile believers. Christianity was a Jewish sect in its early years and it did not envision itself evolving into a religion for the non-Jewish world. Peter is reluctant to change. He understands that the Christian church is growing, but he is also committed to being obedient to the law. He’s walking the line carefully. Until in a vision, God tells him to eat animals that were not Kosher. Peter refuses, thinking he passed the test God was putting before him. But God responds, “What God has made clean, do not call unclean.” God tells Peter to go to a man named Cornelius, who is a gentile, and Peter goes. In his meeting of Cornelius, Peter realizes that the vision was not primarily about what sorts of meat he could eat. "God," declares Peter, "shows no partiality among persons."
This posture towards human beings-not seeing them as their politics, or skin color, or status in life, nor by how hard they work or don’t work, but first and foremost viewing them as beautiful creations who are invited to experience the grace and love of God, that is what made the church so attractive. The disciples are known by who and how they love. Let us pray that we grow into that sort of love as a community.
Best Line From A Song:
“O Love that will not let me go, I rest my weary soul in thee; I give thee back the life I owe, that in thine ocean depths its flow may richer fuller be.”
Of God of the captive and oppressed, the weight of the world’s new is too much for us. We pray:
- for Ecuador and those recovering from the earthquake,
- for Chicago and in particular the school system and especially for teachers
- for an end to Slavery in the world
- for those in Grace Chicago’s community struggling with the loss of a loved one, disease, or unemployment
- May 1st, Stephan Gombis is joining us this Sunday. Come at 9:30! Breakfast and Coffee available.
- May 1st, Potluck will be held, hopefully outside if it is nice! Bring a side or dessert to share. We will provide sandwiches.
- Kite Festival is May 7th! We’re all going.
- Men’s Gathering is this Thursday at Sheffield’s at 7:30. All men are invited.
- More volunteers are needed. Contact Caleb (firstname.lastname@example.org) If interested.