Love Enough To Tell

Originally posted at:


Acts 8:26-40    Ps 66:1-8   
1 John 3: (11-17)18-24,  John 14:15-21
Love enough to tell…
What is the limit
of love? Indeed, does love have a limit?
For many of us, it
does…love does have a limit. We love as long as it is convenient for us to do
so…so long as our personal safety and interests are not jeopardised…so long
as it is not hazardous to our lifestyle or our comfort…so long as it doesn’t
cost us too much.
But our Lord’s
love goes way beyond all limits to the point of giving up His life and dying
for those He loved. Jesus’ love – and the love He wants us to manifest in our lives
– is a selfless love that always considers others before considering oneself.
John 3:16 tells us
that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…and this becomes
the standard…the benchmark, if you will, for Christian living. Jesus thought it
was so important that He repeated it five times prior to the Ascension…once in
each Gospel and once in the Book of Acts.
Love enough to
tell. Go into all the world and make disciples of all nations. Be my witnesses
even to the ends of the earth. Love enough to tell…even if it means giving up
that which is most precious to you…even if it means giving up your life. Love
enough to tell.
That is what Jesus
did – He gave His life a ransom for many – He died so that you and I may have
life and free access to God the Father. The Gospels and the rest of the New
Testament make it clear that there’s an expectation that those who claim to
follow Him ought to love in the same manner…that we, like our Lord, would give
up our lives for the lives of others, indeed for the life of the world.
The disciples of
Jesus and their disciples understood that. In the book of Acts we see Peter and
the other Apostles boldly proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus to the very same
crowds and council that called for His death on the cross just a few weeks
earlier. We see Stephen confronting a hostile group and paying for it with his
life. We see members of the Early Church witnessing to Jesus in spite of severe
persecution. They loved enough to tell.
If you love Me, Jesus
said, you will obey My commandments. Those who accept My commandments and obey
them are the ones who love Me. All who love Me will do what I say. This was
Jesus message to His disciples – and to us – in our Gospel lesson for today. Show
your love for Me through your obedience to My commands.
Go and make
disciples, Jesus said. Wherever you go – in your own backyard, your hometown,
your state, your nation, or across borders or oceans – wherever you go be My
witnesses, even to the ends of the earth, Jesus said. These words are known as
the Great Commission…these words are commands…imperatives…not suggestions…not
options…they are commands. All who love Me will do what I say. Wherever you go,
make disciples of all nations…
Philip understood
this and so he did not hesitate when the angel of the Lord told him to go south
down to the desert road that runs from Jerusalem to Gaza. He went because he
was told to go. He loved the Lord and so he did what was commanded. He went and
met with a highly unlikely convert…an Ethiopian Eunuch. Oh yes, this man was
wealthy and powerful and thus a very promising prospect for anyone seeking a convert…but
he was a Eunuch and according to the Law of Moses, Eunuchs were barred from
full conversion to Judaism.
But this didn’t
stop Philip. He was told to go and so he went and so he witnessed to this man…and
this man accepted Jesus and was baptised into His Name. Philip loved enough to
obey…and thus he loved enough to tell…and consequently one of the first Gentile
converts to Christianity was an African.
But this should
not come as a surprise to us. The Lord clearly states even in the Old Testament
that He wills for the nations…those nations other than the Jewish nation…He
wills for all the nations of the earth to worship Him. Psalm 66 commands us to
tell the world how glorious He is and it petitions God to let the whole world
bless Him.
God so loved the
world…that He gave His only begotten Son…He loved enough to invade our world,
to give up that which was most precious to Him…so that the world might know
Him…so that we might be His forever…
You know, people
often ask us as missionaries what we miss the most. What they mean is what do
we consider the most difficult thing to leave behind as we go to our host
country – or in our in own case, host countries. What do we consider to be our
most precious sacrifice? Usually they mean food or comfort or a position or a
profitable income or something like that. But for us, the most precious
sacrifice is plural. Our most precious sacrifices are our sons,
daughters-in-law, and our grandchildren. To leave them behind is the most
difficult part of obeying our Lord’s call to serve Him in Africa.
But we know that those
who claim to follow Him must obey His commandments…we must do what He did…we
must love like He loved…we must love the world…we must love enough to tell others
about Him so that they might share in the kingdom together with our families.
It has been said that missionaries are those that leave their families for a
short time so that other families can be together forever…and so we go and so we
love and so we tell.
John tells us in
his first Epistle that we know what real love is because Jesus gave up His life
for us. That’s the biblical definition of love. Love enough to give up our
lives for others as He gave up His life for us. But then he warns us not to
simply say that we love each
other, but rather to show the
truth by our actions. Love is not some abstract emotion or thought or idea…no,
love is action…love is doing…love can be seen and felt…
And now that we
know God’s love we have to ask ourselves – and be willing to answer ourselves
honestly – how we then ought to live. Many people claim to love God but disobey
His commands. God wants us to love Him with our whole heart, soul, mind, and
strength – in other words with our entire being – everything we are and
everything we own – and He wants us to love others as we love ourselves.
So, the glaring
question is, do we love God? If we love Him, our lives must demonstrate that fact
through our love for others. That’s the message John is trying to convey to his
readers. That there are two great loves – love for God and love for our
neighbours – and these two great loves cannot be separated. They go together
hand in glove. In fact, John will go on to say in the very next chapter that
anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love. Such a person,
John says, is a liar for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love
God, who we cannot see?
So, here’s the
question again…do you love? Do you love God? Do you love others? Can that love
be seen in action…in your behaviour…in your life? Can it be measured in terms
of sacrifice? Do you love like Jesus loved? Are you like your Lord?
Some southern
African nations have an interesting ritual they perform when they want their new-born
to have the same traits as that of a person highly respected in the community.
When the infant is ready to start eating, they invite this respected person to
their home so that they might be the first to feed the child, usually with
their hand…they might even be expected to chew the food first so that the child
also ingests their saliva. The parents believe that the good qualities of the
respected person will then be passed on to their child.
God is the Father
of all believers. God is love. People who accept Jesus as Lord of their lives
ought to be like their Heavenly Parent…they ought to possess the character of
God…His good qualities…His love…His selflessness…because they feed on His
Word. God has given us His Word to be a life-changing agent…and the Holy Spirit
is our Guide as He is the one who leads us in all truth. He inspired the
authors of the Scriptures to write what they wrote…and now He illuminates the
Word so that we might understand and apply what we read. God’s Word is meant to
shape us and mould us and make us more like Him so that we might reflect His
light in the darkness of this world…that the world might see Him through us and
worship Him with us.
But there is
perhaps an even greater image of union with God than this…in one of the most
controversial passages of Scripture, Jesus says, “Anyone who eats My flesh and
drinks My blood abides in Me and I in Him.” The precise meaning of this
utterance has been debated ever since is was said, but the underlying principle
is simply this…feed on Jesus and you will be part of Him…you will remain in
Him…and He in you. These are the very words we use in the service of the Holy
Eucharist…that we and all the whole Church may be made one body with Him, that
He may dwell in us, and we in Him.
Focus on Jesus…intentionally
focus on Jesus…study Him…meditate on Him…until you know Him so well that it is
almost as if He is in you and you are in Him…
But that is the
purpose of this union…it is so that we might be like Him…the Eucharist is a
meal of remembrance in which we celebrate His ultimate sacrifice for the life
of the world through the giving of His life for ours…the breaking of His
Body…the shedding of His Blood. Here we feed on Him by faith. And when we
partake of this feast, we proclaim His death until He returns…it is meant to be
a witness to us and to all. It is a meal of love…but a love demonstrated primarily
by an action of selfless sacrifice for other…for us…for the world…
Do you love like
Jesus loves?
As you come to partake
of this tangible symbol of love…His broken body, His shed blood…a life given
for life…ask Him who was sent to lead us in all truth…ask the Holy Spirit to
reveal your heart to you as He sees it. Does your heart reflect His heart? Do
you love as He loves? Or do you measure your love by convenience?
Dearest beloved
brethren, do you love enough to tell?
© Johannes W H van
der Bijl III 2018

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