In the Gospels, Jesus shares the marks or qualities of those who are His disciples or His followers. One of these marks is to express love for other Christians. This mark, like the others, is not intended to bring about a guilt-driven self-willed determination to make them a reality. Such a path only leads to frustration and a diminished spirit. The path Christ invites us on is one where we join Him realizing that these marks represent the life-result of God showering a believer with His grace. Another way to express this is to understand that the marks give us a picture of what living out and enjoying God’s grace looks like. Again, one such mark of a disciple is to express love for other Christians.
“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 13:34-45).
Jesus said that His disciples would express genuine love for one another. He describes this as a new command, which is interesting since this command is recorded way back in the Old Testament book of Leviticus. We read: “You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord” (Lev 19:18). These words were shared with God’s people nearly 1,500 years before Christ spoke the command recorded by John. Why then does Jesus call this a new command? The reason Jesus calls this a new command is because Jesus’ own love and teaching deepen and transform this command. The newness is not the actual command, rather the newness is found in loving one another as Jesus loved His disciples. In light of Jesus’ subsequent death, “just as” implies a love that is even willing to lay down one’s life for another (see: 15:13). The challenging nature of this command is found in the fact that we are called to love others with the sacrificial love of God. Such love will serve to strengthen believers as well as attract unbelievers.
How would you define love? Some would describe love as a feeling, but it is really much more. Love as used in John 13:35 is an attitude that makes it known through actions. This kind of love gives when it’s not convenient. It gives when it hurts. This kind of love is hard to do and is only possible when a person receives Christ, being filled by His Spirit, therefore, knowing Christ’s love intimately and empowered to share it with others. It’s no wonder it will attract unbelievers and encourage Christ followers.
As we explore the New Testament, we discover that this love will lead us to serve one another (see: Gal 5:13). Such love brings about the confessing of our sins and praying for one another (see: James 5:16). This Spirit-empowered love will lead us to honor one another (see: Rom 12:10). A believer overflowing with the love of Christ bears with other believers (see: Eph 4:2). Such love leads to forgiving others (see: Eh 4:31-32), as well as, encouraging one another (see: 1 Thess 4:18). Such love leads us to unity (see: Eph 4:3).
John 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” (1 John 3:16). Christ exemplifies love. Jesus showed love by laying down his life for us. The greatest act of love is giving of oneself for the good of others. We do this through selflessly serving others. We must put the desires of others before our very own. Jesus clearly calls His disciples to this love.
I am honored to journey with each of you. I am asking the Lord to show me who someone may be that I need to love as Christ has loved me. I ask Him to help me demonstrate this extraordinary love by His Spirit’s power and leading. It is interesting that this extraordinary love Jesus describes as ordinary for His disciples. One of Crosswinds’ values is extravagant love. I pray this mark of a disciple will be ever-increasingly present in us as His Church. Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God Alone)!