Posted on May 15, 2019 by Pastor Dave Whetter
This is a special week in the long history of Salem. On Wednesday, May 15, Narthex purchased our sanctuary and Luther Hall. As part of that sale, Salem is now debt free, is in the process of developing a $500,000 mission endowment, and is focusing on developing new outreach ministry offerings that will help us be the church God is calling us to be. We may not own the buildings any longer, but we are still Salem Lutheran Church and we are free to enhance the missional work of being Christ in this world. It is an exciting time to be part of Salem, and it is a perfect week for us to remind ourselves of the “new command” Jesus gave to us before his death and resurrection.
In our Gospel text for this coming Sunday, John 13:31-35, once again we hear Jesus give us His “new command”: “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). For most of us, to love someone is to have intense feelings of affection for them. This is not something we can be commanded to do! That is not the love Jesus has commanded of us. The love Jesus has commanded of us has to do with how we act toward one another, not how we feel about each other. It is a love that is a decision to respect the other person, not a feeling about the other person. In a world that seems to be filled with anger and hatred these days, God is concerned with how we act toward each other. God is calling us to love one another. God is calling us to act with love toward all those around us.
Now, loving others like Jesus loved others isn’t always easy; in fact, at times others make it downright difficult to love them, but Jesus did it and he has commanded us to do the same. Note, he didn’t give us a suggestion to love each other; he commanded us to do so. Like I said last week in my sermon, we do this hard thing because Jesus said so. And when we do this, Jesus said, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples” (John 13:35).
He didn’t say the world will know we are his disciples because we have a beautiful church building. He didn’t say that the world will know we are Christians because of the large crosses in front of our building or because we wear a cross around our necks or even because we call ourselves Christians. No, the only way the world will really know and believe we are Christians is when they see us loving not only each other, but the world around us. You see, love is as love does.
As we now look to a new and exciting future, I hope and I pray that we turn our focus from buildings and other technicalities to being a people who focuses on how we will love the world. Not one of us deserves this love that Jesus offers us, but he still offers it to us and calls us to do the same.
Shalom, Pr. Dave