Categories
All Church Development Prayer Spiritual Development Studying the Bible Uncategorized

Love One Another

 

Author: Charles Hegwood

 

As we enter the season of Lent, we reflect on Jesus’ journey to the cross. Today we look into Jesus’ conversation with His disciples in the upper room. The upper room teachings were some of the most highly concentrated teachings of Jesus. Since this was the last night he would spend with his disciples before the cross, Jesus focused on the most important things. In John 13: 31-35 that thing was loving each other.

 

So what does it mean to love one another? I know the word ‘love’ gets thrown around a lot these days. Even in Jesus’ day, he was concerned about the way his disciples would and did love each other. Love would be the foundation of the relationship they shared. So as we ask the question of what it means to love one another, we have to look at what Jesus has to say about the matter. We will see that our love is a command from God and it is an identifier of our belonging to God. So as we go through Lent, let us focus on these words of Jesus by looking into John 13:31-35.

 

The Set up

 

Jesus had just said that one of his disciples in the room they were in would betray Him. This was upsetting. Judas then leaves the room to betray Jesus. Upon Judas’ exit, Jesus switches to a teaching moment about how he is about to be glorified by the Father, but where he is going, they will not be able to come with him. Again, this is upsetting to the disciples. He is talking about his death, resurrection, and ascension. They do not yet understand. There is now fear of betrayal from one of their ranks and Jesus’ troubling words that he is going away to a place they cannot be with him. This is the setup for teaching about love. It is born out of the context of betrayal, the cross looming like a storm cloud on the horizon, and the context of the Son being glorified with the Father.

 

A New Commandment

 

Jesus then gives them a ‘new’ commandment to highlight the importance of this love. Not that the command to love was new in itself, but that the application is now in the context of Jesus’ followers. This application would extend far beyond the nation of Israel to the whole world.

 

Jesus used commandment language because it was familiar to the disciples and to highlight the importance of loving one another. The disciples knew that when Jesus gave a command it was to be followed. This is how the Father in the Old Testament spoke to the people. He gave them commandments. Jesus also did not give them a helpful suggestion. We are commanded to do so. Understand, it is not an, “I have to love that person even though I don’t want to,” kind of thing. It is to be a characteristic of a follower of Jesus to love their brothers and sisters authentically. Just as Israel embraced with love the 10 commandments, so Jesus’ disciples were to embrace this new commandment with love as well. It should be with us, too. We should view the command to love one another as a wonderful way to love each other and God.

 

So what will this commanded love look like? It will look like the love Jesus had for his disciples. We need the Holy Spirit for that. Jesus loved his disciples through their ignorance, misunderstandings, and constant wandering away. He loved them with a shepherd’s love. He laid down his life for them. We are to love one another like that.

 

Love is an Identifier

 

So why was Jesus so keyed in on this idea of brothers and sisters in Christ loving each other? The reason is that loving one another as Christ loved us is an identifier to whom we belong. This means that how you love the people of God identifies you with God and his family. This is a love the world does not understand. Therefore, when they see it, it points to the glory and power of God. Such love shows that we are indeed a new creation and born again. Love like this is not a trait of a sinful, selfish nature.

 

This is wonderful and frightening all at once. It is wonderful because the love the church has for each other is to be a glimpse at heaven and a taste of the love of God. We get to be identified by those wonderful realities. It is also frightening, because when we fail it says the opposite to the people around us. We all know churches or people in churches who are not loving people. These kinds of people can sour the gospel of a church. The world will know we are the disciples of Jesus, by how we love and treat our spiritual brothers and sisters. This is a global, group identity in God’s family.

 

Conclusion

 

We know that John was heavily impacted by Jesus’ teaching captured in these verses. Read 1 John and you will see how John taught this exact type of love. So as we go into the Lent season, let us love our brothers and sisters as Jesus loved us. Let us build church communities that identify us as disciples of Jesus by the way we interact with each other, so that we can point people to Him. The way we love should be an attraction to those outside the church. Let your love for your brothers and sisters this Lent, and beyond, point all the people you run into every day to Jesus. Let them see Christ in you.

 

Share this post in your networks: