What can begin to solve the problems of the world? What answer do Christians have that is unique?
Let us understand that love is the only practical and realistic answer.
We will look at the easiest and at the same time most difficult of Jesus' teachings. We will see love in the context of betrayal, denial and foot washing. We will discuss living in denial of denial and how love can possibly be the answer.
Easiest and most difficult
What proves where God’s people are? Is it a keeping of the “right” rules of church doctrine? In John 13:31-35 Jesus discussed one of the most important of his teachings: love one another. It is evidence of who we are. It is one of the easiest doctrines to understand and most difficult to practice. None of us loves perfectly, yet we can and do love. It is also very difficult at times. The introduction to this topic is the act of washing one another’s feet. I have witnessed churches that do this literally, but never lift a finger to help their neighbors and other churches that do not literally wash feet but obey what it portrays. Jesus would not have asked us to do the impossible. It is possible and Jesus taught that love is the most important commandment.
Betrayal, Denial, Footwashing and Love
In the context of Judas’ betrayal, Peter’s denial and Jesus’ footwashing is the new command to love one another (John 13:31-35). Churches are filled with imperfect humanity and the weaknesses and mistakes that come with the territory. Every church will likely experience some form of betrayal especially of its leaders. Pastors know that being verbally crucified is part of their job description. Some people will also deny that Christ is in the membership of a local church. Yet in the midst of all this is also footwashing, where people serve each other in love. We Christians are a strange mixture of denial, betrayal and love. That’s the way it has always been. Betrayal and denial also exist outside the church. But, real pure love from heaven can only be found in one place as testimony to where God is.
Living in denial of denial
When someone betrays our trust in them of granting them citizenship by terrorizing and bombing us, we tend to act in denial that such things will happen. When someone turns their back on us denying our human dignity and right to live peaceful lives, we act in denial that such denials will exist. Perhaps it is time we face facts. In this world we will have troubles (John 16:33). How can we combat such horror, by perpetrating even greater injustices? By lashing out in anger? By bombing countries far and wide in an effort to eradicate things which will not disappear until Christ returns? Perhaps that is why Jesus said that instead of trying to erase the unerasable, or denying the undeniable, or perpetuating the betrayal of one another, we should consider an alternative answer, love (John 13:31-35).
How can love be the answer
When things go terribly wrong in this world and terrorists strike or nutty foreign leaders threaten, vengeance and acts of aggression seem to be the answer. Jesus’ instruction to love our enemies seems terribly naive and impractical. Yet, in the midst of being betrayed by close friends who denied even knowing him, and being brutally murdered for daring to preach good news of a better world, his practical solution was forgiveness and love. Let’s take the Israelis and Palestinians. What solution have their unending rounds of retaliation provided? None. They have brought no peaceful solution. Military and business warfare have not brought about peace or solved economic troubles. Love and mutual respect are not the rules of Wall Street. Yet, Christians are called to live as examples of the only practical solution to this world’s problems, love (John 13:31-35).
Love can seem like the easiest command but it is at the same time most difficult of Jesus' teachings. In the midst of betrayal and denial, Jesus set the example by washing the disciples' feet. Love is the only practical answer to the world's major problems and it starts right here with us.