During a recent bout of illness, I found comfort among tissues and coughing binge watching the TV show, The Office. It is currently found on one of the streaming channels, but originally ran on NBC from 2005-2013. If for some strange reason, you have never watched an episode or are unfamiliar, I highly recommend the show.
The main actor, Steve Carell, plays the “bumbling” manager of the office. We all know him as an outstanding actor who has appeared in many movies. But if you read about the show, if you listen to the current Podcasts about the show (found wherever you get your podcasts) you will find that the character Steve portrays, Michael, deeply loves the people in that office and deeply cares about them. (He does personally, but this love really comes through in the character he plays in the show.)
I don’t know if I can name exactly what it is, but I love this show! I love the characters, the humor, the dynamic of an office environment (we have all worked in one), and the excellence in each of the actors. I love the varied themes and the excellence in writing. I love the show, but this is my “human” love.
We all “love” certain TV shows, certain foods, ice cream, and so on down the list. Today Jesus is teaching about a love on a much deeper level. Jesus is teaching the disciples, and all of us today, in John 13:31-35. Jesus teaches: “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.” John 13:34. The Message translation puts it slightly differently: “Love one another. In the same way I love you, love one another. This is how everyone will recognize you as my disciples-when they see the love you have for each other.” (John 13:34).
The kind of love Jesus talks about was modeled for me by my mother. In this Mother’s Day season, my mom modeled this unconditional love of God for me. In her last year of life, in the nursing home, as I left and gave her a kiss/hug and said, “I love you!” She would reply, “I loved you first!” I didn’t hear this during my lifetime, just in her final days.
It’s a profound statement, and later as she and I rocked in front of the aviary sharing devotions, I told her “You know, Mom, God loved you first!” We had never talked much about spirituality, but it blossomed between us in this last year. She replied, “Um hmm, That’s right, that’s right!”
This love Jesus talks about today comes from the God who loved us first, last, and always. I believe as we partake in this love of God in Water, Wine, Wafer and Word we begin to get it. God loved YOU first, and God loved ME first, so naturally, in Christ, we love one another. And together we go forward to impact our environments for Jesus. Amen.
Pastor Doug Givan
INKY Spiritual Director
Eric is our current Webmaster and works on the NLS Communications Team. Raised in Judaism, he found Christ and the New Testament at age 16 in a Southern Baptist Church. He searched many denominations for the real church, only to find the Holy Spirit is present in all of them. He's worked for One for Israel, a group of native Israeli believers who are sharing the gospel in the holy land in Hebrew and is part of the only Hebrew speaking seminary in Israel.