You may remember that song of the 80's by Tina Turner, "What's Love Got to Do With It?" If you knew her history with the abusive late Ike Turner, you'd understand why she asked the question!
But I find the cool thing in this Easter season is that 1 John has been prominent in our Daily Office as well as our Sunday readings. And if I were to come up with a description of 1 John, I'd say it's the book of love because that's what he talks about... a lot. It is in 1 John that we hear that "God is love". And the words of 1 John 4:20 give us an unambiguous understanding that we must love each other... no matter our differences... in the same way God loves us:
Those who say, ‘I love God’, and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen.
To love as God loved us, I think, may give reason to pause. I mean, for Christians, the way God loved us was through his Son's willingness to be killed on our behalf. And while that is important... there are many other examples that Jesus had shown his disciples and those who were following him on the "I am the way" idea that are not quite as drastic as laying down your life for another... and I think are equally as important as we attempt to do as 1 John asks when he says, "Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action."
Recently, Fr. Lee Graham did a homily in which he talked about the "I am the way" passage in John's gospel. And as Fr. Graham noted... the "way" was about how to be with one another... not a mandate that if you don't accept Jesus, then the door to God's amazing love party is locked shut to you, a common misinterpretation over the years. By the time Jesus is telling the disciples, "I am the way, the truth, the life", he has demonstrated to them... again... what it means to serve and love your neighbor by wrapping a towel around himself and washing the disciples feet. A simple, welcoming, loving gesture where the host... even this host... takes on a servant role for his friends. That is love, that is "the way". If we are willing to do that sort of simple action for each other, regardless of who we are, we are doing more than lip service to God.
In the gospel reading from John this Sunday, Jesus is again giving some clues to what it takes to be part of the flock of "the Good Shepherd". And the most interesting line I heard, after he noted that he would lay down his life for his sheep, was:
"I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd."--John 10:16
From this statement, I heard two things: one is that God's love is for all... and the second is that God will pursue and find people to bring them into the fold, no matter who they are, what they look like, and who they love. When God calls and we hear it, we will respond... if we are listening. And as I've noted in a previous post, it's sometimes been hard for me to hear the shepherd when the liars and thieves of his message try to imitate that call as a means of keeping me, and other "others", apart from the flock. But the good news is that God of endless love, who is out to find as many sheep as possible, has a way of amplifying the sound of his call... thus breaking through the noise of whacky right-winged liars and a culture of materialism that steals the life out of the soul. The fact that I could hear that call above the din still amazes me. And thus... I believe that's what love has to do with it!