One of the greatest challenges the Lord Jesus Christ has given to the church today is that we love one another as He loved us. We read this challenge in the 13th chapter of John’s Gospel where we see Jesus’s words –“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this, all men will know that you are My disciples if you have love for one another”, (v.33-34 NASB). This new commandment that Jesus gives is in the form of a farewell gift to His disciples before His departure. But the commandment to love one another is not a new commandment at all, so why does Jesus use the words “a new commandment”? I believe that it is a commandment that is new in that it is to occupy the highest position of priority in our ministries and relationships. It is backed up by the greatest example possible. “New” refers to the degree of importance that we should give this charge to love one another. Love is a very special and important grace, and Jesus speaks to how vast its extent should be in our care for one another. John is known as the apostle of love. In fact, there’s a tradition that when John was old and feeble and could no longer preach he would be carried in before his congregation and simply state, “Little children, love one another.”
It is Jesus’s example of loving-care that also makes it a new commandment. We now have an example that we can follow as we pursue our care for each other. The example that Jesus had given was He had knelt and washed the disciple’s feet. I don’t think that Jesus is saying that we should wash one another’s feet (as some denominations practice) but I believe He is instructing us that we need to look for ways that we can model his loving care in our relationships with each other. Tomorrow is another one of the opportunities that we have to work together for God’s glory in “Our Taste of the World” event. As we practice loving one another and working together, we’re demonstrating that love to those that will be visiting with us. Remember the second part of this verse talks about the reputation of our confession is at stake in how we care for and love one another.
Love is the only badge by which the church of Christ is to be known. Unfortunately, too many times the church of Jesus Christ has been known for a lot of different things and not for our love for one another. Our most important commandment is not that we witness, not that we serve (as important as those things are) but that we love our brothers and sisters in Christ. This is the principle of self-denial that is taught so clearly throughout the Scriptures, not only in Jesus’s example but many of Paul’s writings as well. Our love for one another is also a deep demonstration of our gratitude for Christ and what He has done on the cross for us. Christ is the standard that we are to look towards. Jesus doesn’t command us to do something that is impossible for us to do if Jesus commands us to love one another than He’s also going to equip us to do so. It appears that tomorrow is going to be a wonderful day weather-wise (all praise to our great God), but even more importantly it will be a wonderful day spiritually if we demonstrate a love for one another by serving our community and reaching out together with the love of Christ for the glory. There are many things that will be happening throughout the day tomorrow but of greatest value is the opportunity that we have to demonstrate our love for one another. I’m hoping to see you all tomorrow as we love one another for God’s glory.
Pastor Rich Sivo