For a while now, most Saturdays here on God Running, we’ve been going through the book of John. And today we come to the part where Jesus says to us,
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”
And then he goes on to say,
“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Does that describe you? Is that what you’re known for, by all people? For loving just as Jesus loved? For loving like Jesus? I asked myself that question a number of years ago and the answer was a resounding “No!” So I set out to learn how I might change that answer. The result was the book you’re about to read. (Kindle, hardback, and paperback versions of the full book are all scheduled to come out in January of 2020.)
Here’s the introduction.
Things You Should Know About The Author Of This Book
I’m Not Particularly Good At Loving Like Jesus
I’m not particularly good at what I write about in this book, specifically, reflecting the nature of Jesus in my attitudes and countenance. In other words, I’m not particularly good at loving like Jesus. I can be socially awkward, selfish, cowardly, and my personality isn’t generally inclined toward love. Much of what I share in this book I learned from my own mistakes. (Maybe that’s why the pastor gave me the advice he did in the first chapter.)
Some people are just naturally charismatic and have a knack for making others feel loved. I’m not one of those people. I was that person you know who started too many of his sentences with, “Actually . . .” I was that person you know who liked to correct people. In fact, I was a champion at correcting people — and if you don’t believe me, just ask all my former friends. Here are some words and phrases family, friends, and coworkers used to use to describe me: harsh, condescending, arrogant, stubborn, prideful, selfish, and my wife Kathy’s favorite — “Kurt, you have no social filter.”
I’m not a pastor. I have no degree in theology. I’ve never made a disciple of Jesus that I know of. I’m not an evangelist. In that sense, I’m probably a lot like you. The value of this book isn’t found in my credentials. The value of this book is found in how Jesus transformed me from someone who was unloving, unholy, and unlovable. What you’ll find in this book is how Jesus transformed a wretch like me into someone who is — more like Jesus than he used to be.
There’s this old story, it’s not scripture, or even a Christian tradition, just an old story, about Peter. And it goes like this:
Jesus was standing near the lake of Gennesaret, and he wanted to teach the crowd, but he had a problem. The crowd was too big. The people were pressing Jesus toward the water’s edge. So he sees a couple of empty boats nearby and he jumps into one of them. Then he asks Peter to put the boat out a little way from shore so the sound of his voice will carry across the water and the crowd can hear him. (Up to this point everything’s confirmed in scripture, Luke chapter 5 to be specific. But here’s where the story becomes just a story.)
So the story goes that Jesus assigned Peter to stand in the water and hold onto the boat while Jesus taught, and the reason he asked Peter to do this is that it would keep Peter close to Jesus. And, Jesus knew that no one listening that day needed to hear what he had to say more than Peter.
That’s how I feel about this book. Like Peter — no, not like Peter, but much more so — Jesus knows he has a problem child on his hands, so he assigned him to write this book. Because no one reading it needs to learn how Jesus loved people and how to love like Jesus more than I do. And it’s the only way he can keep his problem child where he needs to be — close to Him.
I thought you should know.
I Was Blessed To Live With Some Of The Greatest People On Planet Earth
I was a firefighter for thirty years. It’s a unique vocation, and one reason for that is the 24-hour shifts. During any given firehouse assignment you live a third of your life with your crew. Most people can say they’ve lived with three to twelve people: their parents, siblings, spouse, children, and maybe a few roommates. Over the course of my career, I was blessed with the opportunity to live with nearly one hundred of the greatest people on the planet. Men and women who are better than me. I learned every day from those men and women. Many of the illustrations in this book are from my fellow firefighters. For all of the illustrations, the names and sometimes details have been changed to protect the privacy of those mentioned.
I Wrestled With This Difficult Decision
There are many authors and leaders, both Christian and secular, who are quoted and referenced in this book. Some of them are controversial. You should know that I don’t agree with everything they believe. It’s a decision I wrestled with and prayed about, but in the end, I decided that even though I disagree with some of what these sources believe, I still find value in their ideas. I hope you will too.
Our next post from the book Love Like Jesus will be Chapter 1, Imitating Jesus.
[Image of hands via Josep Ma Rosell – Creative Commons]