Each day this month, we will consider key moments in God’s glorious plan to redeem us. We will understand both the overarching story of God and the highlights of all he’s done for us in Christ.
Before traveling to a certain Asian country on a mission trip, I had to practice holding hands with another man. In that culture, male friends often hold hands. If we wanted to make friends there, we had to hold hands. It seemed weird to us Americans. In many cultures around the world, men are more affectionate with each other, including back in Jesus’ day.
“Now there was leaning on Jesus' bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23, King James Version).
I find the intimacy of this verse shocking. It occurred during the Last Supper. The apostle John leaned against Jesus like a recliner. I’m not sure what the Greek for “snuggling” is, but that certainly describes the situation. Even more, he identifies himself as the disciple “whom Jesus loved.” Clearly, Jesus was John’s BFF (his best friend forever).
It’s no surprise, then, that John is called the apostle of love. In his gospel, John assures us that “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son” (John 3:16).
In his first epistle, he says, “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God” (1 John 4:7). If God’s love resides in us, we don’t have to hold hands. But we do have to love.
The apostle Paul wanted to preach the gospel far and wide. John wanted the gospel to go deep into our hearts and express itself as love for others. God’s redemptive plan includes not only infiltration but also transformation.
At my wedding, someone went around asking each of our guests for one-word descriptions of my wife and me. For me, almost everyone said “creative,” and one said “loving” (thanks, Mom!). I still have time, before my funeral, to change that ratio around. Like the apostle John, I want to be known for love. And, like him, I think the key is leaning on Jesus and inviting him to love through me.
Jesus, thank you for pouring your love into my heart through your Spirit so that I can demonstrate it to others by faith. I don't have to produce it; it is the fruit of your Spirit living in me. Teach me to listen to your Spirit’s nudges and respond to others with your love throughout this day, whatever the circumstances.
Throughout This Day: Invite God to fill you with his love for each person you meet and to guide your thoughts, words, and actions so that you exhude his amazing love.
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