Here’s the good news: Love is life in Christ. SanTan Sun News

Here’s the good news: Love is life in Christ.

Here’s the good news: Love is life in Christ.
Spirituality
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By Rev. Susan Wilmot
Guest Columnist

I pretty much grew up with Kim Casali’s cute single frame “Love is….” cartoon.  About the time the movie “Love Story” was released with the tag line “Love means never having to say you’re sorry” Kim’s strip featured the classic line, “Love is… being able to say you’re sorry” that was printed worldwide on posters, greeting cards and souvenirs.

Kim’s syndicated cartoon (now produced by Bill Asprey) remains popular today, probably because it touches on two profound Biblical truths:  love is relational and love is a verb.

In almost every single frame, the characters model situations and actions that show one another in tangible ways what love encompasses. It’s not just happy times, or fuzzy emotional stuff either.

There is heartache and sadness, self-sacrifice and selflessness, amidst the joy and abundance of love made manifest in how we share ourselves with others to the glory of God’s name.
   Those loving everyday interactions are what we call faith in action. To love our neighbors as ourselves is a moment by moment decision. To live in love means consistently rejecting all things that are not of love like fear and violence, hate and anger, prejudice, injustice, and idolatry.

Choosing a life of love became Jesus’ new commandment to His disciples. Of all the things he could have said, Jesus chose these words “… love one another.  Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another” (John 13:34).

The disciples must have pondered Jesus’ words in their hearts for the rest of their lives. It sounds so simple doesn’t it? That little four-letter word that is forever associated with the eye-searing image of the Word made flesh nailed to a cross.

That little four-letter word irrevocably bound to responsibilities that can feel as weighty as a tombstone. Yet, that little four-letter word also encompasses limitless freedom, profound healing and vast oceans of joy.

Sure, we can love one another — that is, until the reality of what love means starts to sink in. As followers of Jesus, being known by our love for one another is one of the hardest vocations we’ll ever live into.

Jesus knows how hard it is to love those who hurt and betray us. Judas was a member of Jesus’ inner circle of disciples, a trusted brother.

The bitter sting of betrayed trust, of relationships ripped apart at the seams, colors our capacity and ability to love as Christ loved us.

But it also reminds us that we really can’t love at all, without being firmly connected to the source of all love:  Christ Jesus our Lord. Above all else in our lives, we need God in Christ Jesus, because we’re nothing without Him.

The only essential dynamic for love is relationship. That is a relationship with God, and relationships with one another. We know it when we see it and experience it, but it isn’t always easy to define.

We live it daily caring for one another and refusing to take advantage of others; by sharing our spiritual gifts and resources willingly and generously to promote God’s kingdom equity and justice; and through mutuality, truly desiring the very best for one another.

As Jesus showed us most clearly on the cross, love is selfless. It moves us from concern for ourselves to care and compassion for others, expressed in tangible ways.

To love one another as Jesus loves us is to welcome Christ’s love as a shaping force within us. Love made manifest through our faith in action will always bring us into a closer relationship with the Lord, and with one another.

No wonder one of the most popular passages read at weddings is from 1 Corinthians 13:1-13. Take a few minutes to insert your own name wherever that lesson says or references ‘love’ in verses 4-8.

Paul gives us clarity on what’s at stake in Jesus’ new commandment, and what it looks like in the life of a disciple.

To remain connected and obedient to the divine presence and source of love, Jesus constantly prayed for God’s guidance throughout His earthly life.

  Prayer is like the key that unlocks the door to the potter’s shed, where we wait in the dark like lumps of clay for the Master’s hand to shape us.

Prayer is like opening a window to our soul, so that the Holy Spirit can breeze through and reorder the thoughts and the desires of our hearts to align with God’s will.

The Holy Spirit has the power to transform our fear, hate and anger into compassion, and fill us with God’s peace and love. To pray is to embody Christ-likeness as we wait patiently and listen for the Lord’s guidance that lends new perspective, new vision, and a new way of living.

Here’s the good news:  Love is… life in Christ.

The Rev. Susan E. Wilmot is vicar at St. James the Apostle Episcopal Church & Preschool, 975 E. Warner Rd., Tempe.  Susan can be reached at rector@stjamestempe.org or at 480-345-2686.  .stjamestempe.org.

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