John 13:35 NLT Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”
Jesus gave an important command to his disciples and to all Christians. He told them to love each other. ‘To love other people’ was not a new command
Leviticus 19:18 (NLT)18 “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against a fellow Israelite, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.
What was new was is to love people as much as Jesus loved people, and that was very different!
Jesus showed how much he loved us by means of his death. He became a sacrifice on our behalf. He suffered the punishment that we all deserve. He loved us when we were sinners. He continues to love us, even when we do bad things. He even loves people who reject him. Jesus loves people in a way that is completely unselfish. That is the way that Christians should love each other. This kind of love is more than just a feeling. We show it by means of what we do on behalf of other people. We should help people and we should not expect a reward. When people hurt us, we must not hurt them back.
Other people often watch how Christians behave. They want to know if our faith makes us different. Love is the evidence that we follow Jesus. Other people will notice this. They will realize that this kind of unselfish love is very special. And they may ask us about Jesus. They may want to know how and why we are able to love in this special way.
This love is the one described in the Greek word agape which is the kind of love Paul described in
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NLT)4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
If we Christians follow this command to love one another the world will truly take notice and then we can become the ambassadors that He has commissioned us to be.
2 Corinthians 5:18-20 NLT And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!”
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If we were to ask Paul what faith expressing itself through love looks like (see Galatians 5:6 NIV), he might rattle off this list:
Galatians 5:6 NLT For when we place our faith in Christ Jesus, there is no benefit in being circumcised or being uncircumcised. What is important is faith expressing itself in love. (Scripture insert mine)
And if you asked Paul where he got the list, he might suggest you add the phrase just as Christ after each item. This is the short list of all God through Christ has done for each of us. When we decide to love as Christ loved us, it will look a lot like the items on Paul’s list. He simply teased out specific applications of Jesus’ new command. His single command designed to serve as the overarching ethic for his ekklesia.
“Love one another, just as I have loved you” (John 15:12 NASB).
Imagine a world where people were skeptical of what we believed but envious of how well we treated one another. Imagine a world where unbelievers were anxious to hire, work for, work with, live next door to Christians because of how well we “one-another” one another and how well we “one-another” them as well.
Once upon a time it was so. Once upon a time the one-another culture of the church stood in sharp contrast to the “bite and devour” one-another culture of the pagan world. Within that context, pagans found the church to be somewhat irresistible. This was especially true for women, children, and the economically disadvantaged.
What was true then should be true today. Paul’s one-another list should epitomize the reputation of those who call themselves Christians. When people outside the church think about folks inside the church, the items on Paul’s list should come to mind. We should be the best neighbors, employers, employees, friends, partners, and coaches in the community.
Everybody wants to be one-anothered. Everybody wants to feel included in a community characterized by one-another love. The one-another way, the way of Jesus, appeals to something that resides in the soul of every man, woman, and child. The one-another way appeals to our desire to be included, recognized, and loved.
So, what if we just did that?
What if we just one-anothered one another better?
After all, Paul said, “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love” (Galatians 5:6).
— Andy Stanley, Irresistible: Reclaiming the New that Jesus Unleashed for the World
Jesus's arrival signaled that the Old Testament was fulfilled and its laws reduced to a single verb--love--to be applied to God, neighbor, and enemy. So, what is required if we want to follow Jesus’s example and radically love the people around us? We almost always know the answer. The hard part is actually doing what love requires. $24.99
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Donald Jacobs is an ordained minister with the spiritual gift of teaching. He is the Associate Pastor of a non-denominational church in Los Angeles, CA.