A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.
John 13:34-35 ESV
Jesus was introducing a radical instruction . . . a new truth that required new thinking. Love would no longer be a comfortable convenience, but a compassionate conviction.
Pamela Rose Williams writes, “Sometimes it’s difficult to love someone. It’s easy to love the lovely people; but what about those unlovely people that we come in contact with sometimes on a daily basis?”
A New Instruction. The rules of religion have often replaced our relationships within the redeemed. Too many times, we expect right actions before we extend righteous adoration. Jesus reduced all of the commandments to two. He reminds us, “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31 ESV) God’s love is based on Who He is, not on what we do. This is the game-changer in God’s Church.
A New Intention. Barbara De Angelis reminds us, “You never lose by loving. You always lose by holding back.” Just as we have received God’s love, we return it to others. Our love for others is totally and completely modeled after Christ’s love for us. We are a funnel through which His compassion flows. The more we are intimate in our longing for Him, the more we are intentional with our love to others. John tells us what this intentional love looks like. He writes, “By this we know love, that He laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” (1 John 3:16-18 ESV) We give out of the grace we have received. We live out the love that God has lavished on us.
A New Identifier. The Nike swoosh. Ralph Lauren’s polo rider. McDonald’s golden arches. Brand marketing creates a symbol that causes immediate recognition of a product, concept or service. These symbols are often known as logos. Our love becomes our logo. When we love each other . . . with selflessness, sacrifice and service . . . we brand ourselves as being followers of Christ. The psalmist reminds us of the depth and devotion of God’s love, “The LORD is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.” (Ps 103:8 NLT). It’s a love that’s decisive and not divisive.
Jimmy Larche writes, “The true mark of Christ Followers is that they have love for one another. This is what comes to define us. When we don’t follow Christ in his love for people, we end up reducing Christianity to something else – typically a cheap substitute disguised as religious devotion.”
God has shown us love and we share His love with others. Oscar Wilde wrote, “Keep love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead. The consciousness of loving and being loved brings a warmth and richness to life that nothing else can bring.”
Its great instruction with grace-filled intentions and a God identifier . . . receive His love and give it away. That is our defining moment.