“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35…………..
I had heard the scripture above about Jesus’ disciples being recognized, standing out, being obvious, to others by their love for one another literally for years before I saw something I had never seen before. Clearly the Spirit of God had tugged on my heartstrings and showed me something I desperately needed to see. And with all my heart I believe the message wasn’t just for me. I believe it’s for every single one of us who calls himself or herself a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. If you’re a Christ follower, surely you know we’re to love one another. Surely you know that’s how the world can tell we follow Jesus – by our love for each other. But is it possible you were overlooking what I was overlooking in the verses above?
Verse 35 makes clear we must love one another. Now go one verse above that one. Look at verse 34. What does it say? “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” This is exactly what I had overlooked. Plenty of people in this world love each other, right? Plenty of people who do not profess to believe in Christ as Lord love each other, don’t they? But what is to be the distinguishing mark of Christ’s followers? That we love each other like non-Christ followers love each other? No! That we love each other “as I have loved you.” In plain English, we are to love one another the way Christ loved – and loves us. Christ didn’t, and doesn’t, love the way the world loves. Jesus Christ laid down His entire life in His life on this earth, from start to finish, in His daily life, His earthly ministry, and on the cross, and even to this day as He continues to intercede for His followers, and even as He will reign forever. His entire life from start into eternity has, is, and will be about perfect love. His love is a love unconditional, a love unfathomable, a love that is merciful and enduring, that is patient, that is forgiving and kind and beautiful and giving and sacrificial, and on and on.
What should stand out about the love that one Christ follower has for another Christ follower? And about the love we should have for all? That our love is a reflection of Christ’s love. That it looks like His. That though it is imperfect in our imperfects as fallible humans, that we are ever aspiring in the strength of Christ by the Spirit of Christ to love as Christ loves.
Our love for one another, our love for others, should be a mirror of Christ’s love. And it should be Christ’s love in us, Christ’s love through us, Christ’s love through us manifested in how we love one another, that will reveal to the world we belong to Jesus. And it is this very love that should attract others to Him, not that we should take pride in His love that pours through us, but that we should humbly give to God the glory He is due for giving us His love to share with others in His name, for His glory, forevermore!