John 15:12-17 Live Just Like Me
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Jesus said to his disciples: “This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.”
Recently, the president of the United States quoted the Golden Rule when he endorsed gay marriage. What he failed to quote was what Jesus said, “This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.” The key word in the phrase is not only “love” but “as”. In other words, love is modeled after someone; it has been defined by someone: God, not men. Love “as” I love. When God created man he created woman. He did not create a friend; he created a spouse, which is much more than just a partner and a friend.
To be a Christian means to be like the Lord; in my thoughts, in my words and in my actions. Not in my wildest dreams. Of course the Lord loves everyone. But he didn’t agree with everyone and everything. We can do the same thing. It’s not difficult, especially when you see what everyone and everything can look like.
Look at the Federal Government, we seem to be spending all our time (and money) fixing problems rather than avoiding them. We know how to operate in a deficit pretty well; we’ve been doing that now for a while. But what we don’t know how to do well is stimulate savings. Is the same not true with regards to our spiritual life? We are pretty good at sinning. And unfortunately, we will end up spending tons of money to get ourselves out of sin. But what we don’t do well is save ourselves from sinning. And believe me when I tell you, saving is a lot cheaper than spending. There are two ways to be saved: either we can pull ourselves out of a hole or we can stop ourselves from falling into the hole. If I may speak for the Lord, I think the Lord would prefer that we not harm ourselves so much. That way, we save time, money and people from trying to do so.
Recently, I was waiting in the waiting room at a local hospital to give someone the anointing of the sick. There were some small children watching a TV program on Nickelodeon Junior. The creepy characters on TV were singing a song that had the words, “It’s important to have friends.” I shook my head and left the room. It appears as though the brain washing sessions are commencing at an earlier age and at a more frantic pace. I thought to myself, “Friends? Friends are important in Elementary school? What about family? What about trusting in mom and dad?” Fine.
Before I left the room I picked up the morning issue of the DaMN (Dallas Morning News). On the front cover of their “Arts and Life” section (Section E), was a photograph of an eleven year old girl, Caitlin Rinehart, eating an orange from a paper cup. She is being treated for anorexia nervosa. She was diagnosed at the age of eleven. “At eleven!?” I screamed to myself. “She has anorexia nervosa at the age of eleven?” I felt so sad for this young girl. “Where are her friends?” I thought to myself. Now, she is surrounded by “friends” that are actually adult therapists and counselors. On page 12 of the section there is another picture of her. The caption below reads, Caitlin, who takes part in yoga at Children’s, says the best thing about her ongoing recovery “is getting closer with my family.” BRAVO! The family! May God bless her now and forever. Little angel, you are in my prayers.
But who will let the others know just how important family is? When will Hollywood, commercial ads, and TV producers open their eyes and see the damage they are doing to our kids and to our families? When will they stop creating the dramas that cause problems? When will they stop sending mixed signals? When will they stop insulting motherhood, parenthood? When will they start working on prevention? Finally, when will they shun stars and musicians that encourage immoral (destructive) behavior?
All kids need their family. But not all kids spend time with their family. They've been told to love their friends. They spend way too much time chatting, texting and spending sleepovers with their friends. They don’t spend time with their siblings or their parents because they are constantly being told to love their friends! And parents, who were once children, don’t know exactly what to do except wait for them to turn eighteen and kick them out of the house. But they can’t. Because, statistically speaking, by the time they turn eighteen, far too many will have been anorexic since 11 or bulimic by 12, brokenhearted by 13, used and abused by 14, depressed by 15, emotionally a mess by 16 and a druggy or alcoholic by 17. These are the facts. Millions and millions of our kids are suffering all these conditions and more, much more.
Everyone knows that eating disorders have less to do with food and more to do with self-image. And so who is feeding our kids the idea of “self-image?” If friends are more important than food and family, then what’s causing the problem? If TV programs and shows are such a great influence, then why aren’t they a part of the therapy? If music videos and teen magazines are so wonderful, then why aren’t they a part of the solution? Everyone knows the answer to these questions. And yet, when it comes to religion: God forbid He has any role in our schools.
Who wants to live their life worrying all day long about themselves? No wonder why more and more kids at an earlier age keep saying, “Life is not worth living.” Of course it’s not, if you are standing on your head all day long. And instead of news outlets and experts taking preemptive strikes against Hollywood and kids programs, they say, “Let them enjoy life while they can.” But let me ask you: What’s so enjoyable about an STD? What’s so thrilling about broken heartedness? Is a half-hour of laughter and thrills worth months and years of terror and fear? Hardly.
Christians think in reverse. Christ taught in the reverse. And I know why: we were all standing on our heads. Christ began his ministry with the bad news first: original sin and repentance. Americans, like ancient pagans, think the good news is sin! and so they pump it up all night long. Only much later, lastly, do they admit to the reality of sin; that it is “bad news”: “Oh, did I tell you kids already? You might end up in therapy or rehab or under a surgeon’s knife, or in jail for the rest of your life?”
For years we were brainwashed into thinking that sinners had more fun than saints. But then something happened: reality. By the age of twenty, we felt spent, bankrupt and consumed. Our young bodies felt annihilated, abused, shriveled, and corrupted. By the age of twenty-five, after having spent years and years hardcore partying and experimenting, young men and women look old, very old.
So what happens next? Check your mail box.
I got home from the Hospital and went to my mailbox and pulled out “Home Magazine” from North Dallas Park Cities. On the front cover is a plastic surgeon, Dr. Huerta, who “can help”. Three ladies stand behind him trying their best to put on a smile. “Want to be 18 again?” the question is asked. No guarantees are made, but by the time you figure that out you have read the propaganda. I read the article and I thought of Madonna's song “Like a virgin." Oh yes, to be young again, pure again, innocent again, and to be made clean and fresh again…like a virgin." And now you can, at least on the outside, with the help of surgeons, make-up, dresses and oh, lots of money. But what about the inside?
The reality of sin and the solutions to sin have been kept in the closet long enough. It's time we all share the Good News.
“It is not you who chose me, but I who chose you to go and bear fruit that will remain.” Ah yes, fruit that will remain - never spoil, never grow old, never shrivel up. How? Remain in my love. Remain in me. Love as I love. Live as I live.
Of course we did not choose the Lord. Leave it to him to choose us. Now that’s love!