The Word This Weekend – May 19, 2019
“The Jesus Rule: ‘As I Have Loved You’”
The Rev. Dr. William L. Hurst
FLCS Senior Pastor
I give you a new command: that you love one another as I have loved you – that is how you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples: if you practice such love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)
Around here we talk a lot about “The Rule.” At school chapels, congregation meetings, sermons and classes, the issue of what rule of living should guide our interactions with others and with God is never far from our thoughts. And, reflecting on the words from Jesus to his disciples, spoken in the moments just prior to his arrest and suffering, we are forced to confront the rules we so often adopt, and the Rule he would press upon any of us who dare to claim his Name and ethics in our daily lives and relationships.
Practically speaking, there are several “Rules” that I see us adopting and practicing in our dealings with each other, as we struggle to grasp the Lord’s distinctive guiding principle of Agapé (that is, love that offers itself unconditionally to others).
Because, let’s face it – this is a pretty loveless world we find ourselves in. Underneath all the current events that buffet us each day -- splashed across headlines, etched onto social media postings, and incessantly crawling along the bottom of news channels – is the deeper question of how we should view and treat our neighbors, how we should define and practice love for one another. And that question -- as old as Eden and as contemporary as borders, barriers and bridges – ought to be undergirded by a Rule by which we judge our thoughts, words and actions toward any of God’s children we confront and engage.
I tend to breaks these rules into several categories, which I list in this way:
This rule, by Jesus’ reckoning, surpasses the pre-emptive rule for sure. Otherwise I suppose Judas would be lying dead on the floor, Peter would be felled and ejected at the rooster’s crow, and the frail and falling disciples would be discarded as unworthy and unreliable failures they will prove to be in the grim hours to come.
And the Leaden Rule is surpassed as well. Because if Christ is to be led by retributive rules, if he is to give as cruelly as he will receive, then we’re all lost. By this measure, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do” would be replaced by “Father, curse them, for they know damned well what they’re up to!”
Even the Golden Rule falls to the wayside in the code of the Jesus Rule. For our model of response and life is not to be measured solely by what we would have others do toward us, but rather by what Jesus has done for us. We betray; he befriends. We deny; he reclaims. We fail and fall and falter; he forgives and renews, serves and saves and reconstitutes. We wash our hands in vain to clear the bloody smudges of our sins and wrongs; he washes us clean and pure in the baptismal flood of his loving and redeeming grace.
So, friends, this weekend any every weekend, we of the Jesus Community are given the opportunity to trade our oh so human rules of retribution and fear for his diamond-pure rule of self-giving love and virtue -- whatever others may do to us, take from us, or tempt us to substitute for his shining rule of life and peace. “Love one another as I have loved you.” In the water, word and table, we meet a new way of living, a new rule for loving, forgiving and overcoming. We meet the New and everlasting Testament in his blood, given and shed for us and for all humankind. The Jesus Rule: in our ears, on our lips, and in our hearts.
See you at worship this weekend, that we may be the people of this surpassingly beautiful and liberating Rule for our lives and in his name and by his example.
With You in God’s Good Work,