Welcome back to the online Bible study of Kelly Minter’s What Love Is We’re discussing Week 2 in the book, which covered these themes:
- Jesus as our Advocate
- Assurance of our faith
- Loving others
- Light and darkness
When my daughter was about 3-1/2 years old, she made this enemy.
After a week of summer dance camp, she declared that she absolutely did not want to take ballet in the fall.
Did she enjoy dance?
Did she have fun at the camp?
Did she want to try the dance classes?
End of story. No explanation. No answering any of my questions about it.
A few months later, we sat together on one of the benches in the dance studio waiting room watching the tiny dancers file out after class. We picked up my oldest daughter and headed out the door.
That’s when my girl said it: “I didn’t see Madelyn in the class.”
Then she exploded with the report that “Madelyn” always wanted to sit on the triangle at dance camp even when other kids wanted to sit on the triangle and she wouldn’t let anyone else sit there no matter what.
She sucked in one big breath, harumphed, and tossed her arms criss-cross around her chest while stomping her feet for effect.
Well, babe, Madelyn was in dance camp, but she isn’t in the regular dance class.
“Oh.” Long pause while 3-1/2 year old process new information.
“Well, I want to take ballet then.”
For all those months, territorial conflict with another preschool child had dominated her life choices.
Territorialism, jealousy, just plain old being annoyed with another person….it doesn’t get any easier handling all that mess as a grown-up.
We’ve all been there, forced into relationships with folks that drive us insane maybe with their negativity or pettiness or meanness, maybe insecurity, pride, constant bragging, insistence on arguing with everything you say, trying to compete with everything you do.
I tell my daughters this:
You don’t have to be best friends with mean kids, but you have to be kind and loving to everyone.
1 John 4:20 says it this way:
“If anyone says, ‘I love God’ yet hates his brother, is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother whom He has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.”
John writes that “love one another” is both a new command and an old command. Kelly Minter explains, “The new command to love is loving like Jesus loved (1 John 2:7-8)” (p. 52, emphasis mine).
Sometimes I want to edit this, soften it a little, make it fit a little more comfortably instead of stepping on my toes.
Maybe: “For anyone who does not love his brother….when his brother is a pretty nice person….cannot love God, but when his brother is annoying, a jerk, mean, or immature, then it’s fine not to love that guy.”
Of course, that’s not Jesus.
God is love, and Jesus showed that by loving the unlovely, by loving the enemy, and by dying on the cross for you and for me when we were still covered in the mess of our own sin.
So, I could pit myself against the ‘unlovable’ or I could choose Jesus and the discipline of kindness and sacrificial love.
This is at work and it’s at church. It’s with the annoying mom in the PTA and the gal who drives us crazy on the sidelines at soccer.
It’s in our own homes, too.
Sometimes love is hard and sometimes love is a choice.
In fact, some days, loving others feels impossibly out of reach. How can God ask me to love “her” or to love “him?”
On page 52, Kelly Minter reminds us that:
Now that Jesus has entered the world….we can love our neighbors as ourselves more fully than we ever imagined! Why? Because the old commandment to love has now been revitalized and energized because of Christ (the new law). The new ability to love dwells in Him and also in us….”
In other words, we can’t fulfill this commandment on our own. We can’t love others like Jesus loves them in our own strength or because we’re particularly nice or extraordinarily loving or patient people.
It’s because of Christ in us.
We can ask Him to give us that love for others, to show us how to love them, and then we must make the choice to obey His command.
BIBLE STUDY TIP:
Sometimes we all fall behind in our Bible study lessons. Shocking, I know! Life can get unexpected and more than a little crazy. Satan, though, would like nothing more for you to just give up rather than sticking with it, persevering, and finishing this study. Please don’t give up! God will certainly bless your determination to finish what you’ve completed.
Here are some ways to catch up:
- Every weekend, make sure you are all caught up from the week before. That way you can start each Monday on track and not get too overwhelmed or fall too far behind.
- Try doing one lesson in the morning and one in the evening until you are caught up. Make it a priority, choosing Bible study time over television shows or social media.
- Use your weekends! Since there are no workbook assignments for Saturday and Sunday, you can use those days to catch up on anything you’ve missed.
- Take your workbook with you and do it whenever you are stuck waiting, maybe to pick your kids up from school or ballet or waiting for a meeting to begin.
- Choose a point to just “start fresh.” If you really have missed so many lessons that you’re tempted to give up rather than push forward, you may need to wipe the slate clean and just start fresh. Pick up where you are supposed to be rather than trying to do the lessons you missed. You can always go back and do them later. This is never the ‘ideal,’ but it is better than abandoning the study completely and missing out on God’s Word!
ASSIGNMENT FOR THE WEEK:
- Basic Study: Complete week 3 in the study guide, about 20-30 minutes each day.
- Optional: To watch session 3 video CLICK HERE (optional due to cost).
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS FOR THIS WEEK (answer in small groups or post a comment here):
- What does it mean to you personally that Jesus is your Advocate and the propitiation for your sins (1 John 2:1-2 HCSB)? How does knowing that about Him take your love and appreciation for Jesus to a deeper place? (from p. 43)
- What’s the difference between loving others the way the world loves them and loving them “like Jesus loved?” (from p. 52).
- Kelly writes, “I am still so prone to trying to earn forgiveness….” (p. 55). Do you ever find yourself trying to earn forgiveness? How can we rest more fully in Jesus’ saving work?
- What are some modern ways we as Christians might struggle with “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride in one’s lifestyle” (1 John 2:16 HCSB)? Were you especially convicted this week about loving any of these things that are “from the world?” (from pp. 60-62).
- What was the most impacting moment for you this week? It may have been a Bible verse, principle, prayer experience, revelation, new understanding or conviction.