So I've been reading a book by John Piper (again) entitled, "What Jesus Demands from the World". I've been enjoying this thick book, which has been thought-provoking, challenging, and insightful. Piper goes through 50 demamds that Jesus gives through the gospels, primarily sticking with the gospels for scriptural support.
There is one previous demand that has really been insightful and thought-provoking above all the rest that I've read through. It is demands #33 in the book; entitled, "Love Your Neighbor With The Same Commitment You Have To Your Own Well-Being". Here Piper explains what Jesus means when He says "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." (Matt 22:39).
We read and heard this command plenty of times before, but do we really know what this means? Seriously? I found it profound what Piper had to say about this! I don't wanna share the whole chapter with ya'll, but I will share somethings that Piper says in the chapter that I found precious.
First Piper explains what Jesus means by "as yourself", by saying how we love ourselves, and long for self-presevation and self-fulfillment.
"All of you have a poweful instinct of self-preservation and self-fulfillment. You all want to be happy. You all want to live, and to live with satisfaction. You want food for yourself. You want clothes for yourself. You want a place to live for yourself. You want protection from violence against yourself. You want meaningful or pleasant activity to fill your days. You want some friends to like you and spend som time with you. You want your life to count in some way. All this is self-love. Self-love is the deep longing to diminish pain and to increase happiness." (Piper, pg. 257, What Jesus Demands from the World)
Piper goes on to say as Jesus would say that this self love is natural, and is something that all humans have in common. It's something that God has created. So it's not wrong. Then he goes on to say that this is the same way that we are to love our neighbors.
"As you long for food when you are hungry, so long to feed your neighbor when he is hungry. As you long for nice clothes for yourself, so long for nice clothes for your neighbor. As you work for a comfortable place to live, so desire a comfortable place to live for your neighbor. As you seek to be safe and secure from calamity and violence, so seek comfort and security for your neighbor." (Piper, pg. 258, What Jesus Demands from the World)
He goes in in this sort of pattern, but I stop there because I think you get idea of what he's saying. As followers of Christ we find for ourselves satifaction, comfort, security, happiness, and peace in Christ alone. So in light of Jesus' command to love our neighbor as ourselves, we are to long and desire that our neighbor find those same things in Christ as well. When I take it to a more personal level, I say it like this:
I long and desire to see my dear friends and beloved brothers and sisters in Christ be happy and content in Christ. Seeking and chasing after Him, becuase they are madly in love with Him. Doing everything they can to make sure that Jesus is the very foundation or their their joy, peace, strength, and satisfaction. Living lives that are centered around Jesus, exalting and magnifying Him. That Christ is who they lives for, and who their lives are about. Unashamedly proclaiming, "All I have is Christ! Jesus is my life!"
This is not something that is easy for me to live out. It involves killing pride, and cultivating humility, which isn't easy of course ( see Philippians 2:3-4). Yet this is how I long to love my brothers and sisters in Christ.
Then to also love those who don't know Christ as their Lord and Savior, namely the lost. To love in the same way. A way that displays Christ, and proclaims the gospel truth, so that they may be saved and have the same love and desire for Christ that those who are already in Christ have.
Like I've said before, this has been thought-provoking and challenging to me. It's a command that I want to do my best to obey. A command that I want to bring to your guys' attention and encourage you all to do the same and be obedient to our Lord and Savior Jesus' command. If we love Him, then we'll keep His commandments.