“A new command I give you: Love one another.
As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples,
if you love one another.” John 13:34-35 (NIV)
Today I joined one of my daughters-in-law and her two children on a “date”. We went to Indigo’s Book Store where each grandchild chose a book, and then we went to Tim Horton’s Coffee Shop where we enjoyed a drink and a sweet.
When I first saw the three of them, I noticed that we all had sandals on our feet. I bent down and whispered in my little grandson’s ear that I had a riddle for him to solve. I said that all of us had something in common, that all of us had the same thing on us.
A serious minded little guy, he pondered the riddle for a moment, looked carefully at each of us, and then his face brightened. His answer, while surprising to many, was vintage him. He said, “Grandpa, we all love each other.” My grandson often sees the important matters in life rather than the obvious.
I was certainly happy that he felt his family all loved each other. Love is so important for everyone, both to give and to receive. God made us for community. Hermits are rare.
Our verses speak of a “new” commandment from God. Yet in Leviticus 19:18 God commanded that we love one another. So what does Jesus mean by “new”? The next sentence makes His meaning clear. We have been given the example of “how” Jesus loves us and that is the “new” that He is speaking about.
We are to love in the manner that Jesus does. We are to love with the self-sacrificing love of Jesus. Galatians 2:20 (NIV)
“…I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
We are to love with the faithful love of Jesus John 13:1 (NIV)
“Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.”
This is what is “new” in the command to love one another. So when a child does not have the love of their parents, they can turn to the Lord and receive the love they ought to have from earthly parents but do not. The marriage partner who has been deserted by their spouse, or the widow / widower, can find a faithful One to love them—their Creator.
The love of God is clearly of a different sort than human love. We are made for human community as well as divine. However, life does not give everyone the same opportunities to receive human love. Those who do not have the human love others enjoy, may turn to the Lord for the increase of His help that is needed. He will come to those who seek His help and grant them wonderful assurances of His presence, His strength, His closeness, and His enduring love.
The church is a place where the Lord’s people should find acceptance, encouragement and the love that they lack in other relationships. In church we should have the company and love of those with whom we will spend eternity. We should share with them our great Saviour and celebrate together His eternal love for all of us.
Let us all do our part to love one another.