There’s an old MAD TV sketch in which Mo Collin’s character seeks professional help for her fear of being buried alive in a box—confessing that just thinking about it makes her life horrible because she can’t go through tunnels or be inside an elevator or house — anything “boxy.” Her psychologist, played by Bob Newhart, quickly recognizes her irrational worry, leans forward from behind his desk and abruptly shouts, “Stop it!”
Oh, how apropos these two words are to Christendom, specifically in how we love others.
The first time I wanted to yell, “Stop it,” was to a guy becoming a pastor. I was in my early 20s, hungry for spiritual growth. I was excited about having been invited to join a small group of men who gathered at Chick-fil-A — obviously — for breakfast and Jesus.
This soon-to-be-pastor sat across from me and asked about my faith. I was elated! Even though I had been raised in church, it wasn’t until now that I was eager to share my personal journey with Christ. Straitening my back, and hardly pausing to breathe, I laid my heart on the table, right next to my chicken.
Interrupting, he asked, “Wait, you’ve already accepted Christ?” He explained that his assignment required him to introduce 10 people to Jesus, and since I already knew Jesus, he stood up and moved to a different table. He didn’t want to know my story — or know me. It was clear; he cared only about himself and his grade.
Romans 12:9-11 states, “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them … Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically.”
In his book Love Does, Bob Goff recalls a decision to leave high school and spend his days climbing the cliffs in Yosemite. A youth leader of his, Randy, decided to tag along with Bob for the first part of the journey for no other reason than to just be with Bob. It ended how you probably imagined. With no education or job, Bob was forced to return home within a week, Randy at his side never chastising Bob or saying, “I told you so.” When they arrived back to Randy’s home, Bob realized that Randy was a newlywed. Bob couldn’t believe that Randy cared enough — believed in him enough — to press pause on his own life for Bob.
Bob said, “Randy didn’t see just a high school kid who had disrupted the beginning of his marriage. He saw a kid who was about to jump the tracks. Instead of spending his early days of his marriage with his bride, he spent it with me … Why? It was because Randy loved me. He saw the need and he did something about it. He didn’t just say he was for me or with me. He was actually present with me.”
Bob said, “That’s what love does! It’s sacrificial, which was modeled by our God — at a great cost!”
Jesus says in John 15:13 that “there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
What does it take to have this kind of love? Relationship: First a real relationship with God and second with people. Knowing God intimately will allow you to understand real love and be sincere when loving others. Conversely, a counterfeit love boasts all the right elements of a legitimate relationship but fails to make a difference in the person’s life.
In That Crumpled Paper Was Due Last Week: Helping Disorganized and Distracted Boys Succeed in School and Life, author Ana Homayoun shares about a frustrated mom concerned for her son’s lack of school engagement. While the mom thought the issue was solely the son’s, Ana discovered that the mom had recently been through a divorce and failed to consider how the new family dynamic might impact her son’s school performance. Upon digging deeper than the symptom, the real issue was revealed. Now the mom and son have a stronger relationship. That’s what love does … anything less, stop it!
C.J. Wetzler is the NextGen pastor at First Baptist Church of Deerfield Beach. Before transitioning into full-time ministry, CJ was a commercial airline captain and high school leadership and science teacher. For questions or comments he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.