For the King
Rev. Samson Olasupo A. Ayokunle, Ph.D
President, Christian Association of Nigeria & Nigerian Baptist Convention
Empowering Our Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace through Love.
Text. John 15: 9-13
As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
John 15:9-13 NIV
We have been treating the issues of justice and peace for some years now in our pilgrimage together. I am therefore not going to spend time explaining what it means anymore. However, I need to briefly explain the words ‘empower’ and ‘love.’
According to Collins English Dictionary, to empower is ‘to provide the means to achieve something in order to be stronger or more successful.’
On the other hand, love is defined by Oxford Dictionary as ‘an intense feeling of deep affection for someone or something.’
The Bible in another vein describes love as being ‘God.’ This means that whatever God is, love is. It is captured as follows in 1 John 4: 16:
And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.
The above passage simply makes living in love mandatory for those of us in Christ because God lives in us through faith in Christ, it equally means that we live in love and love lives in us. Love for all and in particular for one another in the household of faith is therefore not an option, it is mandatory.
From the above definitions, to empower our pilgrimage of justice and peace through love therefore, we must allow love for one another to be more intense and passionate in order to make our pilgrimage stronger and more successful. Of course, Jesus Christ our Lord himself says that it is through love for one another that the whole world would know that we are his disciples indeed! (John 13:34-35)
Love in practical terms should be our distinguishing feature as children of God.
The Significance of Living in Love
- We would win the world to the Lord more easily through love and if our world is won, it would be a better place to live in for all of us. John 13: 34-35
- By living in love, we would have complete joy
- We would not miss our journey to eternity. We would be able to abide in faith to the end.
Refusal to love others is tantamount to breaking the commands of Christ and it is a sin. Anyone who does not love his or her brother that he or she sees cannot love God. No enemy of God or law breaker will spend eternity with him in glory. If we do not walk in love with all, we abide in death and eventual wrath of God.
It is good to pulse here and quickly examine what love is not in view of the fact that in our world today, love is being misused. Lust and inordinate affection are being wrongly referred to as love.
What Love is Not
- It is not Eros or erotic feeling.
Errors type of Love is the Love that we have for something because of what we derive from it. The satisfaction derived from the relationship is what sustains the love in this situation. This is the usual love between a man and a woman. It is utilitarian in nature. It is a conditional love. It may not last for long if the satisfaction derived from the relationship is no longer there. This is not the type of love that can drive our relationship in this world body if we want to achieve our goals of justice and peace. Our love should be based on what we can sacrifice and not way we can derive.
- It is not Phileo type of love.
Phileo type of love is the love that we have for another person because of the blood relationship that we have. The account of Moses’ killing of an Egyptian illustrates this perfectly as recorded in Exodus 2: 11-12 thus:
“One day, after Moses had grown up, he went out to where his own people were and watched them at their hard labor. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his own people. Looking this way and that and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.”
This love is not perfect either like the first type of love we considered.
It is not objective in its sense of judgement.
It can motivate anyone to do anything no matter how bad. It is a love that can lead into partiality and even criminality as it did in the life of Moses. It is at the root of racism, nepotism and other forms of divisions causing wars today in our world. This type of love almost scattered the first Christian church in the world and in Jerusalem because the officials that were supposed to distribute welfare to the widows preferred to give to those that were Jews like them, not the widows in need. It is recorded thus:
Acts 6: 1
“In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food.”
It was the timely intervention of the Apostles, correcting the anomaly that saved the church from being scattered!
The World Council of Churches as the ecumenical Body of Christ in the world must watch out against nepotism, racism or any other mundane consideration in determining appointments into positions. What one can do should not be based on the church where she or he comes from but competence and fairness to all. If filial love is allowed to play out, merit would be sacrificed for mediocrity. If merit is sacrificed for mediocrity, we would have misfits occupying different positions and there would be weak organization.The danger in filial love is disaffection and lack of sense of belonging to the body that may develop. This we must never allow.
What Love Is.
Agape is God’s own kind of love. It is a perfect love. This perfect love has the following attributes:
Attributes of God’s kind of love.
(a) It is unconditional none utilitarian. It has no string attached. It is not based on the worth of the person being loved, but on the commitment of the person who has decided to love.
Romans 5: 6-8
“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Our love for one another in our pilgrimage of justice and peace must not be based on race, church denomination, geographical region, age or sex. It must be unconditional love as Jesus loves us. This love would bring mutual respect and fairness in the scheme of things which eventually would multiply the joy and fulfillment of every member.
(b) It must be eternal
The love Jesus has for us is eternal love. This eternal love of God is steadfast, everlasting or unfailing love. It is an enduring type of love that can not change no matter the circumstance.
Isaiah 54: 10
“Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you.”
John 15: 9
““As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.”
It is a love that nothing should separate us from no matter how serious or weighty the situation may be.
Romans 8: 39
“neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
John 13: 1
“It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.”
(C) It is Sacrificial
This is the height of the demonstration of the love of God for us in Christ’s sacrificial death.
This is the love that cannot hold back anything.
It is not only unconditional, redeeming, it is forgiving and is extremely generous. It is ready to pay any price to demonstrate the love and keep it going.
John 3: 16
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
The sacrifice God gave for loving us is his only begotten Son. Love is giving.
Romans 5: 8
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
For WCC, the love Christ enjoins must enable us to identify the needy and cater for them. Be a voice for the voiceless all over the world, advocate for the homeless and the strangers
Illustration of the sacrificial love
The Brendas and accident story where the husband died instead of the wife.
Let me repeat it that in this world body, we must run away from love that is based on who we know and where people come from before they are allowed hold position or recognized one way or the other. We must demonstrate the impartial total and unconditional love of Christ in everything we do.
Let’s get loving one another irrespective of age, gender, race, denomination or any other mundane consideration. Let us through the love of Christ strengthen our pilgrimage of justice and peace by keeping his commands which is the word of God. This is the obedience to His lordship that he expects from us as we live daily to make others in the world know him through God’s own kind of love, agape.
By Rev. Dr. Samson Olasupo A. Ayokunle
President, Christian Association of Nigeria
& Nigerian Baptist Convention