“…that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” (John 17:21)
The last few days we considered the story of what Muriel has taught me about love. She could hardly teach me anything, could she, as she lay abed those ten years with no awareness of anything from Alzheimer’s? Yes, she could- the most important thing of all about love, in fact.
One day I was speaking about the seven things Muriel taught me about love. A single woman said afterward; “You tricked me!” “I set you up, didn’t I?” I replied. “Yes, you did and I’ll be eternally grateful.”
You see, I’ve been telling you a parable. It must be an OK parable, because the Bible itself incessantly tells the same parable; marriage is designed to mirror our relationship with God. In the Old Testament it was Israel, God’s wife; in the New Testament our mirror is the Church, Christ’s bride.
Here’s how Muriel taught me the seventh–and most important thing–about love. Once during those 12 years she lay abed, I was looking at her lying quietly asleep, thinking of how loveable she is to me, about how I love her now more than ever and about how the heartache is she can’t love me back, I thought, “Lord, is that the way it is with you and me? You pouring out your love on me by day and by night, caring for me, protecting me, providing for me, longing for my constant companionship, and all you get in return are a few grunts when things don’t please me?” How sad. For HIM! Sad because love for him is the ultimate purpose of life.
Where did I get that idea? Why from Matthew 22:37: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and withall your mind. This is the great and first commandment.”
This is the first, the greatest. Why? We are created to be God-compatible.
Redemption? Save us from hell? Yes, because he loves us so. But so much more. Remake us in our God-likeness, godliness? Yes, but to what end? God-compatible so you can be one with him! I may not be able to understand or describe it, but I can illustrate it and the illustration is so incredible it will blow you away. Or it should. In John 17 we have the record of the Son’s conversation with the Father. Now there’s as intimate a love relationship as you could get, right? God the Father and his Son. Problem is, the passage has been co-opted by the ecumenical movement to teach unity among believers—important as that is—that we may miss the point. And what a point! Listen in on their conversation with fresh ears. John 17:21: “My prayer for all of them is that they will be one, just as you and I are one, Father—that just as you are in me and I am in you, so they will be in us…so that they may be one, as we are—I in them and you in me, all being perfected into one.”
Wouldn’t you want that kind of love affair with God? Lord, I want to love you just the way Muriel taught me:
- By telling you of my love throughout each day,
- Demonstrating it by living wholly for your welfare, not fixating on my own
- By partnering with you to advance your cause in my generation, on my watch
- By companioning with you all day long, sharing your joys as well as my own, sharing your hurts, not just dumping on you about mine
- And by holding steady till death do us… unite as one forever!