George H. Morrison - Devotional Sermons
Have You Tried the Way of Love?
He that dwelleth in God, and God in him--1Jo 4:16
In a thoughtful book I came across a striking suggestion about Jesus. It is that the question He is always asking is, "Have you tried the way of love?" His teaching was infinitely varied and exquisitely adapted to the moment. He couched it in a hundred forms according to the demand of the occasion. But the question He was always asking, and which He is always asking still, is, Have you tried the way of love? There is nothing radically new in this, for love is native to the human heart. In the dimmest past and in the darkest spot some spark of love is found. The glory of Jesus is that He brought love to light as He brought immortality to light and proclaimed its application everywhere. The worth and wonder of love was not a new thing in the world when Jesus came. It is embedded in every great literature and freely recognized in the Old Testament. What Jesus did was to exalt it into a compelling and universal motive applicable to the whole of life. Others had bidden us to love our friends; Jesus made us love our enemies. His followers are not to love selected souls; they are to walk in love. With difficult people, with all who irritate us, with those we can scarcely think of without bitterness, Jesus always confronts us with the question, Have you tried the way of love?
Justice of the Old Testament Transcended
It is there He so transcends the older Covenant which He came not to destroy but to fulfill. For the question of the Old Testament is this, Have you tried the way of justice? There is a great deal of love in the Old Testament, but love is not yet upon the throne. Love is like the dawn in the Old Testament; it is not yet in the middle heaven of noonday. The moral glory of the older Covenant is not its passionate insistence upon love, but its passionate insistence upon justice. Instead of wild and unrestrained revenge, it enforced an equal retribution. If a man lost an eye he might demand an eye; if a tooth, he might demand a tooth. Right through the law of Moses and the prophets, and on to the Baptist's preaching in the wilderness, there is one long cry for social justice. Then came Jesus, and the cry for justice was transcended in the cry for love. He says to the man embittered by his blinding, Have you tried the way of love? And He means that by the way of love something more is gained than retribution, for the enemy is turned into a friend. For conquering enemies and settling problems, Jesus believed in love alone. Love to Him was the universal solvent of the injuries and injustices of life. We may smile at that and call it idle dreaming--"Behold, this dreamer cometh." But for the Lord it was "the only way."
It is notable that Jesus never defines love just as He never seeks to define faith. These monosyllables reach the heart of things, and in the heart lies their interpretation. But no one can read the sayings of our Lord, nor recall His training in the home of Nazareth, without recognizing that His thought of love was colored by the relationships of home. To Him nothing was more heavenly than the love which He had found in family circles with its understanding and forebearance, its quiet self-forgetfulness and sacrifice. Like golden threads there runs through all His teaching tender memories of the humble home at Nazareth where love reigned, illuminating poverty and triumphing over every household jar. That was what love meant for Jesus. He wanted to universalize the home. Get that spirit to reign in the broad world, and the wilderness would blossom as the rose. In the quick, instinctive sympathy of home, in its patience and understanding and self-sacrifice, there lay the key for the sweetening and transfiguring of every relationship of life. To try the way of love, for Jesus, meant to try everywhere the way of home. In the family it had been gloriously successful--why not in other relationships as well? The pity was men were afraid to try it, as they are mostly afraid up to this present hour--as if justice could ever suffer where love reigns.
But if love was colored by the hues of home, our Lord's insistence was not based on that. He called on men to try the way of love because He knew it was the way of God. He found that as he wandered in the fields--did not the rain fall on the evil and the good? Did God withhold His sunshine from the sinner on the strict and narrow plea of retribution? He found that in Himself sent in the very lavishness of love, for God so loved the world. For Jesus, love was not an attribute of God; it was the depth and center of His being. God was not fatherly; He was a Father, loving His children as a father does. His perfection was not a rigid justice, but an infinitely loving heart--and we are to be perfect even as He is. That was why Jesus was so daring, though all the world might reckon Him a dreamer. To Him the way of love was God's way, and God's way is the only way. Undeterred by the mockeries of men and resolute in "the foolishness of God," He confronts our broken world today, still asking, "Have you tried the way of love?"
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