I’m gonna start by throwing two seemingly random thoughts out here:
- Love is not scientifically tangible. You can’t measure it or identify it with your outward senses.
- According to Paul, Jesus is the image of the invisible God.
While you cannot see love with your sense of sight, I would guess that there are times that you’ve seen love. And despite the fact that you cannot feel love with your sense of touch, I would also guess that there are times that you have also felt love. Allow that to mess with you for a minute…
You can’t see love but yet, you can. Sounds like we need a metaphor. How about water? I know, how can water be a good metaphor? You can see water, right? Well, not always. Did you know that there’s water all around you that you can’t see? The air all around us holds water vapor in it that we never get to see and are almost never aware of until that cold surface causes it to condense creating a drink circle under your iced tea glass.
What about within you? Did you know that your body is composed of somewhere between 55% and 60% water? You don’t see or think about that water either, right?
But it’s there and if that percentage drops only a few points, your body starts to mis-fire from dehydration. So for now, let’s use water as a metaphor for love, the deposit of God’s image in us.
If Jesus was “fully human in every way” then how, in such a harsh world and harsh time in history, could he act so kindly toward people? Jesus didn’t make enemies or upset people because he treated them badly. Quite the contrary, those who treated others badly or thought of themselves as superior took offense to Jesus because he didn’t. He befriended even the marginalized outcasts of his day. And on top of that, he didn’t talk down to them from the perspective as one who thought himself morally superior. He showed genuine love.
Jesus, the image of the invisible God, made visible God’s very nature – love.
Because of his divinity? Maybe, but that’s often the default answer – the easy answer. Jesus certainly didn’t take the easy road though, so I’m going to look for something more. Using the water metaphor, the easy divinity answer would mean that Jesus had a higher percentage of water in him than everybody else. If he was “fully human in every way” then he had the same 55-60% water content as you and I, and the same deposit of love, God’s image.
In a world where our love often looks nothing like Paul’s description to his friends in Corinth, Jesus showed love like no other – something genuine, something real, something completely unselfish. Then he said something amazing – “if you really know me, you will know my father.” Basically telling those around him “You’ve seen me, you’ve seen how I love; that’s how God loves.”
What if Jesus loved like the Father not because he had more love in him or even because of his divinity, but because he was actively aware that, as a human being, he was made in the image of God and that his human DNA was also composed of love?
That looks a lot different from some “all-too-often” given easy answer, doesn’t it?
What if Paul’s life was completely changed because he followed Jesus and became actively aware of the same?
What if we accepted Paul’s invitation to follow him as he follows Jesus? What might that look like?