Just As…So I… So That….it’s all about LOVE!
May 10, 2015

Pastor Pamela Stalheim Lane

There are a lot of things in this world that are a lot easier if you can watch someone else do them first.  Example: Knitting. What if you gave a couple of knitting needles and some yarn to a person who had never seen or read anything about knitting and they didn’t even have an app for that – what are the chances that they would be able to knit anything– let alone something as beautiful as a prayer shawl?  But what if… you sat down beside – or across from – someone who knew how to knit really well and you did everything JUST AS she or he did it.  It might not be perfect… but chances are… and the prayer shawl group is pretty confident about this… chances are really good that you could learn how to knit too. 

Or what if you are a young man and your father tells you that its time to learn how to shave the stubble off your face.  He could just hand you a straight edge and say… good luck.  Or… hopefully, he could show you and you could do it too just as he has done it. 

Just as. That’s how Dr. Jim Boyce translates the first word of our Gospel lesson.  Jesus says, “just as” God the Father loved me…

So this is the first thing that you need to understand: God the Father loves Jesus the son.  That’s not hard to imagine.  But it’s a very important foundation for what’s to come... so I know that you’re with me, could you repeat this after me: “God the Father loves Jesus the Son.” 

This probably seems kind of obvious.  After all, why wouldn’t God the Father love the perfect son Jesus?  But… I want you to pay attention to two sets of little words: “Just as” and “so I.”  Jesus says, “just as” God the Father loved me…“so I” love you.  Just like the novice knitter or shaver imitates the experienced knitter or shaver, Jesus imitates the Father’s love.  “Just as” God the Father loved me…“so I” love you.  

In the same way that God loves Jesus, his perfect son, Jesus loves you and me, God’s not so perfect sons and daughters.  Jesus loves you. Yes. You. Maybe you’ve heard this before.  I hope so.  We just sang it with the children.  But it’s not just for little children. It’s for you.  And just so that you hear that this message is really given FOR YOU, I’d like you to turn to someone near you and say to them and listen to them say: Jesus loves you. 

Jesus said, “just as” God the Father loved me …“so I” love you.”

But that’s not the end of the story. There are two other little words that I want you to hear. “So that.”   Jesus loves you and chooses you so that you can love one another.  But… just in case you thought it was optional, Jesus makes it a command.  He commands us to love one another.

But how… you might ask… can anyone “command” someone to love?  Is it really love if I’m being “commanded” to do it?

Our independent streak dislikes “commandments.” Yet, just as a parent cares for a child, God gives commandments for our sake, because he loves us.  And it’s not only for protection. God wants more for us. As Jesus says, “I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.”  This is what Jesus wants for us – joy. 

Jesus wants joy for you – and the way for you to have joy is by keeping this chain of love going. Remember, just as God the Father loves Jesus, so Jesus loves you. And Jesus loves you so that you can love one another.

Jesus doesn’t just tell us or command us to love. Jesus shows us how to love by loving us. And he gives us the commands so that we will be able to love. Just as it would be really hard to knit or shave without watching someone do it, so too, it would be really hard to know how to love – if you had never experienced love. But Jesus wants you to know: I love you. I chose you.  I want joy for you. Receive the gift of God’s love through his Son Jesus. And then share that love with one another.

This past week, I learned the story of an unlikely candidate who shared God’s love: Sam. Sam might be classified as someone with “special needs.”   And he clearly did have special needs.  But he also had special gifts – and one of those gifts was love.  Sam was a person of faith who knew that: Just as God the Father loved Jesus the Son, in that same way, Jesus loves Sam so that Sam could love everybody.  And he did.  Without hesitation… Without filters… Without any self-consciousness whatsoever.… 

This is wonderful for John.  But the story doesn’t stop there. Sam, the boy with “special needs,” the one that people assumed was fairly helpless – knew how to love. And that love taught others.  In particular, he taught Tom. Tom was one of the caretakers for John.  He looked all put together – but the truth was, he had some special needs of his own.  Tom was very afraid of becoming a father because his own father had run out on the family when he was just a little boy.  He had no father to teach him to shave.  And that was just one of the things that he missed out on. But on a deeper level, Tom was deeply afraid of becoming a father because he wanted to be a good father – and he did not know how.  How, he wondered, could he pass on to a child the love that he had never received?  Yet… as Tom worked with Sam, Sam showed him unconditional love and it melted Tom’s heart. 

That’s the amazing thing about the love of God that comes through Jesus Christ.  It doesn’t always follow a likely path. Notice that Jesus does not command you to love just your children or just your parents.  He says, “love one another.”  Sam did.  And now Tom does, as a pastor and as a father - both to his children and to the children of others. 

Love.  It’s all about love. Jesus gives us the example to imitate. For just as God Jesus, so Jesus loves you. And just as Jesus loves you so you can love one another.  And this is what brings joy. 

Brothers and sisters in Christ, Jesus loves you. May you love one another and be filled with the JOY of Jesus.  Amen. 

Pastor Pamela Stalheim Lane
May 10, 2015