My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. John 15:12 (NIV)
Sermons are all around us—if we have eyes to see and ears to hear. The totality of Jesus’ life was a seismic paradigm shift from the letter to the spirit of the law. When he said, “Love one another,” he was pointing toward an internal work of the Spirit that would carry believers beyond the obligatory going the first mile and perfunctory forgiveness into abandoned display of God’s love through us.
That’s what we saw that twilight in Uganda. I had asked our guide if we could please see some lions, a lion? We traveled through miles of dusty roads cut through the game preserve, and then we stopped. Just in front of our van was a gorgeous male lion at the side of the road under a bush only yards from us. His tail politely, but effectively, stretched across the path blocking our further approach. In his golden aura, he quietly surveyed us and his kingdom.
Momentarily, a second lion, as splendid as the first, arrived, and the lions embraced. Their greeting was warm, full of affection, and deeply moving. Not the National Geographic attack that we’d been programmed to see.
Four years ago when the first lion was found by park rangers, his leg had been caught in a poacher’s trap, and infection had already gone to the bone. The resident vet determined that the leg had to be amputated to save the lion’s life. And so it was that the king of the jungle was no longer able to hunt or protect himself. But his brother appeared, and for four years the brother has walked with him and guarded him, and the females have brought him food.
We watched in silence. Loving one another. That’s what we saw.
Father, you’ve told us that the animals will teach us. Help us to love the weak, the marginalized, the needy, and all those you’ve put in our lives—just as you love us. In Jesus our Lord. AMEN.