Like Me (or like Jesus)

Sculptor_Anthony_Smith_working_on_statue_in_studio_wiki_commons

Sculptor Anthony Smith at work. (Wikimedia Commons)

. . . having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.

John 13:1

Happiness Is Love

Jesus’ time here on earth is just about to end and the writer of the gospel of John tells us that Jesus loved his own who were in the world, and he loved them to the end. Jesus will tell us later in the gospel of John that if we keep his commandments we will abide in his love, and:

We will experience a fullness of joy in our own lives.

Immediately following his “if you keep my commandments” statements, Jesus gives us his commandment. He says,

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”

So if we follow Jesus’ commandment to love, we’ll abide in his love, and we’ll experience a fullness of joy in our own lives. (John 15:10-12)

Two thousand years after Jesus made these statements, Harvard researchers closely followed the lives of 268 men. They followed them for 75 years. Their research is one of the most comprehensive longitudinal studies in history. It included regular interviews with the subjects, medical physical examinations, questionnaires, and psychological testing for more than seven decades.

After years of painstaking scrutiny, the study’s director George Vaillant came to this conclusion:

“Happiness is love.”

He said that you loving others (and people loving you) are the keys to your happiness. They’re the keys to experiencing a fullness of joy in your life.

Like Me (Or Like Jesus)

Jesus “loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.”

That’s what Jesus did. But what do you do? And what do I do? We can have a tendency to become focused on trying to make our wife, or our husband, or our friend, relative, or even our enemy, like us. We can focus on making our spouse take care of things around the house the way we do. We can focus on trying to make our friend’s politics like our politics. We can focus on making our fellow Christian’s theology like our theology. We can focus on making people like us. And other people can focus on making us like them.

But when we do, we focus amiss. Focusing on making people like ourselves is just a distraction from Jesus’ commandment. I think the reason so many of us fall into this pattern is that it’s so much easier. It’s so much easier for me to criticize or complain about the way in which someone else is not conformed into my own image politically, or theologically, or in the way they do things around the house, than it is for me to seek God’s Holy Spirit’s help in conforming me into the image of Jesus.

Instead of focusing on making other people like me, I need to focus on making me like Jesus.

In the context of politics, Bob Goff puts it this way: Don’t worry about what’s happening in the oval office, concern yourself with what’s happening inside the oval around you. There are people inside that oval. Jesus commanded you to love them.

Jesus “loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.”

“Father make us like Jesus. Make each of us a person whose focus is to become like Jesus. Lead us away from the pattern of trying to make other people like us.

“Make each of us a person who follows Jesus’ commandment.

“Make each of us a person who loves others as Jesus loves us.

“In Jesus’ name,

“Amen.”

 

Notes:

Scott Stossel, What Makes Us Happy, Revisited, The Atlantic, 5/2013 issue

Joshua Wolf Shenk, What Makes Us Happy?, The Atlantic, 6/2009 issue

Bob Goff, 10/1/2017 Teaching At Westside: A Jesus Church

Image of Anthony Smith at work via Wikimedia Commons

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