34 “I give you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, so you also must love each other. 35 This is how everyone will know that you are my disciples, when you love each other.”
Jesus gives us a new commandment, “that you love one another.” So as followers of Jesus, loving others is not optional, it’s a requirement for every disciple. And this type of love, agape from the Greek, is the highest form of love. It defines the type of love that God has for us, unconditional, selfless, sacrificial love. Jesus fully realized this love during his life and by giving his life for us on the cross.
Jesus’ command to love others the way he loves us doesn’t leave us an alternative, we are to love unconditionally. It costs us something to love in this way, we sacrifice our egos and our expectations to love others. We can’t reason our way out of who we will love and who we won‘t love. Jesus gave His life for us, forgives us over and over, showed us how to love those whom society ignores and despises. This type of love turns the world’s expectations upside down. This is radical love that transforms us and the lives of those we love in Jesus’ name. We are able to love this way because God loves us and has given us Holy Spirit so we can grow in God’s love. We love not from our own strength which will fail us, but through the power of God’s eternal and unfailing love.
As disciples of Jesus, loving each other sets us apart from how the world loves.
In the 2nd century, Tertullian, an early Christian writer, defended Christians to pagan authorities by writing: “What marks us in the eyes of our enemies is our loving kindness. ‘Only look,’ they say, ‘look how they love one another.’” (Apology 39). As Christians, not only do we love other Christians, but our enemies as well. We’re not talking affectionate love, which is subject to change, but love that prays for and forgives our enemies. This requires a close relationship with God, unceasing prayer and gathering to worship with our faith community. This is how everyone will know we are disciples of Jesus, by our love.
by Jeneene Reduker
For Pondering & Prayer
Loving like Jesus doesn’t happen overnight and we will fail, over and over again, but it’s important that we don’t give up. Loving like Jesus requires that we rely on the love of God and the transforming work of the Spirit, to shape our hearts and minds by God’s radical love.
Can you imagine if Jesus loved us the same way us as we love others? Not a good feeling, if we’re honest with ourselves. But we can begin again each day. Who in your life do you need to show the love of Jesus? Do others recognize you as a disciple because of the way you show the love of Jesus?
Prayer: Jesus, our loving Savior, we want to love others as you love us, but we fail daily. Transform our hearts and minds by your Spirit so that we may love others as your disciples. Amen.