Love Teacher

Jesus is the one who teaches us to love, and his teaching style is the richest imaginable. No boring lecturer, he goes beyond multimedia to true holistic teaching. Jesus knows how we work – the interaction of body, soul and spirit, the response of our mind and heart to our experiences. His love course is comprehensive.

First, Jesus knows that we cannot give what we do not have, and he does not demand that we try. He has loved us, and loves us, like no other lover. He has formed us wonderfully, showered us with natural and spiritual gifts, and created us a beautiful home. But that is not the essence of his love. Many of us cannot or will not appreciate those gifts because we are in too much pain. Pain from the wounds others have inflicted, and pain from our own selfish and suicidal behavior. Here Jesus shows the deeper love that only he can. He has given his life for us, in living and dying as one of us, so that our wounds and diseases of heart and spirit can be healed. He is the lover who trades his peace and joy for our shame and fear, and so he has covered the prerequisite for the love course.

Jesus now begins the instruction. Of course, we can read his words in the Scriptures, and he was a brilliant lecturer. Love was no theory in those classes. Jesus loved, with miracles of healing and deliverance, freeing men, women and children from sickness and suffering, from anguish and depression. He said this was what the Father wanted him to do, to show his love for us. As he taught, Jesus could point out real, living illustrations of his words “…your Heavenly Father knows that you need these things.” He told stories, with familiar characters and situations, and surprising twists. He spoke riddles sometimes, words that left the hearer wondering and searching. He asked questions, and answered questions, playing tricks of wit on those that sought to trick him, to the delight of those with open and humble hearts.

Jesus will teach us this way today, if we allow it. We can relive those lessons from the gospels, certainly. But he is ready to give us our own every day. His images and thoughts flow through the words of centuries of songwriters, poets and novelists. We find his story woven in nearly every story, in human drama, in epic adventures, in comedies and romances. From Cinderella to The Lord of the Rings, the hope and heroism of our Savior echoes over and over. Read the book and watch the movie with him nearby, and be attentive to your heart, where he whispers his commentary “Do you see me there? Did you know that I love you like that? Did you know that I long for you like that?” So he fills our hearts with fire, with passion, with the romance and glory of this supreme lover. We are warming up.

The course includes labs, too, and Jesus doesn’t leave them to some halfhearted assistant. He is there as we walk through the agony and ecstasy of life ourselves, living out the movie scenes without knowing the script. Here he does what no other teacher could ever do. He imparts himself into us. He works his miracles in our hearts – injecting his own compassion and mercy and affection, even for those we thought our enemies. Here we discover we love, like he loves, and we are startled. “Did I really say that? Did I really do that? Do I really feel this for that one who hurt me?” Yes, I do. This is the life and love of God flowing through me to you. Sometimes I hurt and sometimes I am exultant with delight, for this is the real thing. Every part of me is involved, every sense is fed, and the curriculum is worked into every cell and sinew of my being.

Is there a final exam? No, this course continues without end. This prof never retires, and never loses the fire, for this subject is his very favorite. Nobody flunks, either. Whatever mistakes we make, he sympathizes. He was in our shoes once. He knows. But he doesn’t know frustration or discouragement. He hangs in there with us through everything. He shows us what went wrong, he heals, he corrects, he soothes, he encourages, he empowers. And he gives us another shot at it. Over and over, as long as it takes. And when it works, when the love flows through without a bump sometimes, he celebrates. You could say, as the ancient Scripture says “he makes his face to shine upon us.”

3 thoughts on “Love Teacher”

  1. Hey Jim:

    I enjoy how you write and express things. I smile.

    Something struck me in what you said….Jesus is saying to us:

    ….”Did you know I love you like that?”….

    That is just totally amazing to me. Something that has been happening the last day for me is looking at the ‘wasted’ reality that is a huge part of my life and where it has lodged it’s nice little self all my life. I’m still amazed that even though I am living in the present, so much of what I live out of is the past pain. Great potential for much healing.

    Back to ‘wasted’—the thing that struck me when I was studying what this reality was all about was that of being more like a ‘zombie’ in childhood due to the lack of connection with loving, mature adults (boarding school with perps)….the sheer lack of being enjoyed for who I was and the developmental dent that had on me with ‘Wasted’ becoming a reality with my perception of me being not someone of joy, but ‘useless’—which was mirrored rather well to me, sadly enough.

    I was asking Jesus what he wanted me to know about this all and these different things were popping into my head (what I discovered above and now below).

    It popped into my head that God lavishes his love on us. Well, another term for that is ‘wasting’ something on someone. I laugh! How ironic! Jesus meets me in my own word useage of ‘wasted’ reality by ‘wasting’ a bunch of love on me…..I call that synchronizing and it makes me laugh. The lack of good things necessary to grow takes loving bonds to encourage growth and have healing, it seems to me.

    So your post with Jesus saying to us….”‘did you know I love you like that?” catches me in the middle of all this exploring and discovery about Jesus being rather wastefully kind to me in my ‘Wasted’ state. Almost like Jesus lifting my chin, looking me in the eye and asking me, “did you know I love you like that?”

    That’s a God connection that has been meaningful to me this week-end. Thank you for your comforting words!

    Marion

  2. Jim,

    Steve MacL… Pointed your blog out to me and I have enjoyed it

    However I cannot resist to responding to “is there a final exam? No, this course continues without end. ”

    Help me understand My question is
    ‘How do you reach this conclusion?” in light of:-

    Revelation 20:11-15 ESV

    Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

    Matt 7:13-14

    13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.
    ESV

    Matt 25:31-26:1

    “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

    41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

    ESV

    Rev 22:12-17

    12 “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay everyone for what he has done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”

    14 Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. 15 Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.

    16 “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”

    17 The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.
    ESV

  3. Roger,

    Thanks for your comment. It’s intriguing to me that you connected my ‘no final exam’ words with the final judgment. If the Lord is teaching us to love, and plans a final exam in love that will determine our eternal fate, then how will the final be graded? Will we be condemned if we have not learned to love perfectly in this life? The irony of that is unfathomable.

    The Matthew 25 parable is challenging. Are the sheep those who have always cared perfectly for the least of the brothers? Are the goats those who have never cared at all for the least? What about everyone else who has loved, yet imperfectly? If Jesus is giving a literal description of the determination between eternal punishment and eternal life, there must be some clear dividing line. Of course, evangelical theology defines the line as between those who have accepted Christ as Savior and those who have not. But Jesus doesn’t mention that idea here. How do we take these words literally with regard to the eternal outcome, but not take them literally as to the criteria?

    In any case, when I wrote the words of this post, I imagined that we would continue to learn love throughout eternity with Him. If we, upon entry into eternal life, are instantly perfected and cease to learn and grow, then my image would be wrong. That may well be true. But perhaps the depths of His love cannot be plumbed in the twinkling of an eye, after all, and we will enjoy exploring and experiencing more and more of Him forever and ever. We shall see!

    Jim

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