“The Truth Will Set You Free”: How to Love Like Jesus
“Don’t be evil.”
For many years, that was the famously simple motto of tech giant Google. And while mottos are, by nature, limited in what they can communicate, it’s worth thinking a bit more about what these three words say (and don’t say).
For example, they don’t really encourage anyone to believe anything, to accept something as true. Contrast this with, say, the famous words of the Declaration of Independence (“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…) or even the humorous mantra of Ted Lasso’s Dani Rojas: “Football is life!”
Instead, Google’s motto is concerned with how we act.
On the face of things, the company isn’t here to tell its users, employees, or shareholders that they need to get behind any particular set of beliefs, it just wants everyone to treat their fellow human beings the right way.
The same kind of sentiment sometimes shows up in Christian circles as well. Several years ago, the initials WWJD (“What would Jesus Do?”) were everywhere—from wristbands to bumper stickers. As far as I can tell, they’re almost always meant as an encouragement to follow Jesus’s example specifically by showing someone love, kindness, and grace. In fact, I recently came across a t-shirt that read, “WWJD HWLF (He Would Love First!)”.
Again, the emphasis is on actions—how you should treat someone else. To that point, when was the last time you came across a t-shirt asking, “What would Jesus believe?” or “What did Jesus teach?”
In both these cases, the focus isn’t on highlighting something we should believe to be true, but on encouraging people to treat others with kindness and love.
Is Love Enough?
“Okay,” you might say. “But what’s the problem? If expressing kindness and love is our biggest issue, then aren’t we doing pretty well?”
And you’d have a point. Expressing kindness and love should be extremely important to us…because it was extremely important to Jesus!
Not only did he identify loving God and our neighbor as the two greatest commandments (Mark 12:28-31), but he stated that Christians’ love for one another would identify them as his followers (John 13:34-35).
But while Jesus insisted on the importance of love, he also claimed that what we believe is crucial. For example, he stated that genuine worshipers of God must worship him “in truth” (John 4:24). That is, rather than worshiping God according to any ideas we might have of him, we need to worship him according to who he really is.
On another occasion, Jesus taught that failure to accept the truth of his identity meant that “you will indeed die in your sins” (John 8:24). Believing what is true mattered a great deal to Jesus.
Why? Because what we believe inevitably shapes how we live.
This is why Jesus says that embracing the truth will “set you free” (John 8:32). The Bible explains that understanding God-given truth is essential for living a life that is pleasing to God (Colossians 1:9-10), satisfying to us (Psalm 1; Psalm 19:7-11) and beneficial to others (John 15:5-17).
Love Like Jesus, Live Like Jesus
All this brings us back to where we began. At first glance, it sounds both simple and compelling to say that what we need to do is simply concentrate on loving people. But what does that mean?
After all, love may be one of the more widely defined words in the English language. For instance, many people in our culture say that loving others means supporting and affirming them regardless of what they choose to do. (Because who are we to tell them what they can and can’t do with their own lives?)
But is that true?
Jesus’s life is the very definition of what it means to love. So what did Jesus do?
Heal the those in need? Show incredible patience to those that were slow to understand? Graciously forgive sins? Yep, all the above.
But Jesus also called people to repent of their sins , rebuked one of his closest followers for effectively promoting Satan’s agenda, and flipped the tables of those standing in the way of genuine worship.
So according to Jesus, we can’t legitimately love others without both encouraging them and advocating for what it right and good. And we can’t live for what is right and good without knowing what Jesus says it true.
Who Defines Truth?
Jesus’s life, along with the rest of the Bible, argues that truth isn’t irrelevant or antagonistic to loving. It’s essential.
And who gets to decide what the truth is? Contrary to popular belief, it isn’t you. It isn’t me either.
We already noted Jesus’s famous statement about the truth setting us free. But it might be helpful to look at what Jesus says leading up to it:
“If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free”
Jesus’s teachings reveal the truth that will reliably shape and guide your life. So, if you believe in Jesus and want to love like he loves, it’s worth asking yourself three important questions:
- Who do you think gets the final say about what’s true?
- Are you willing to listen to Jesus and let the truth of the Bible shape the way you live and love?
- What’s one practical step you can take to get God’s word into your life on a more consistent basis?
An easy way to spend more time in God’s word is to join the Ten Minute Bible Talks community. Read along with the podcast to study the New Testament in a year.
Download the free TMBT Bible Reading Plan and tune in to Ten Minute Bible Talks on your favorite podcast platform to get started.