In John 13:34, Jesus says this to his disciples and to us, A new command I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. Later in John 15:12 he says, My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Two things here that are pretty obvious:
- Loving one another is actually a command from Jesus, which means it's a really BIG deal!
- Our love for one another is meant to look like Jesus' love for us.
So what can we learn about this "one another" love from Jesus?
Jesus tells us in John 15:16, You did not choose me, but I chose you. One of the greatest things that ever happened to Jesus’ disciples, is that Jesus chose them. He picked them. He called them and he invited them, saying Come follow me. And for the next three years, they spent nearly every moment with Jesus; learning from him, walking with him and experiencing him!
Jesus loved them by inviting them to really know him by sharing in His life. Loving like Jesus means inviting one another to a front-row seat of our life. It means letting people see the real us and not just the person we are on a Sunday morning or at some kind of “Christian” gathering; including people in our everyday lives.
It means really knowing one another. Knowing one another’s stories and taking the time to listen. It means being honest and open—telling the whole truth about our lives without editing out the parts we think make us look less than perfect. It also means inviting others to be honest with us, welcoming their input and feedback regarding what they see in us and for us.
I don’t know about you, but I when I read the Gospels, I often find Jesus’ disciples really annoying and irritating. These guys regularly miss what Jesus is trying to tell them: they ask stupid questions, they doubt, they fight amongst themselves and they argue about worthless things. Sounds a bit like us doesn’t it?
Even Jesus gets frustrated with them—in Mark 9:19, he actually says, How long must I be with you? How long must I put up with you? (Let’s be honest - who hasn’t said these exact words about other Christians?) But in spite of them, Jesus doesn’t quit. He’s committed to them. In fact, he later tells them in Matthew 28:20, Surely I am with you always ... to the very end of the age.
Hebrews 13:5 tells us, Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you. Now that’s commitment! When it comes to the family of God, Jesus doesn’t have simple come and go, "We’ll see how it goes" kind of relationships. In fact, his commitment isn’t even for a lifetime—it’s for an eternity. We think “'Til death do us part” is a big commitment. But Jesus literally says to us, I want to be with you forever.
One of my favorite passages of Scripture about God’s love is in Romans 8:38-39, that says: For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Are we getting this? The love of God for us is powerful, deep, wide and unbreakable—nothing stops it! In the same way, our love for one another is meant to be more than just casual—more than just a take-it-or-leave-it kind of love. It means that we are committed to one another in a real way. A lasting way.
This is the kind of commitment that doesn’t have one eye always looking for a way out or for someone better. This is a love that doesn’t just walk away when things get difficult. It doesn’t quit because of petty things like different styles or preferences or personalities or because of conflict or disagreements. This is a love with a LOT of grace and forgiveness! This is a love that says: I’m with you! I’m for you! I’m with you when it’s good and when it’s not. When it’s easy and when it’s hard. When there is joy and when there is sorrow. When there is gain and when there is loss. Whether we win or we lose. I’m with you!
Love sacrifices selflessly.
Certainly the greatest act of love ever displayed is Jesus upon the cross. He gave everything—even his very life—because that’s real love. Love gives. Love sacrifices. It’s selfless.
In 1 John 4:10 it tells us, This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. In other words, God’s love for us wasn’t based on our love for him. He didn’t give to us because of what we were doing for Him, or because of how we could repay him for his acts of love. In spite of us, He loved us and gave His life for us. This is the ultimate expression of love—to give everything!
Jesus tells us this in John 15:13 when he says, Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. To love like Jesus means giving of yourself selflessly and sacrificially. It means that we love one another beyond comfort and convenience. Beyond our planners, schedules and routines. We love with our time. With our energy. With our gifts, talents and resources. With our blood, sweat and tears. It means sometimes we love even to our own hurt. It means that we love with our whole life!
This is how our Jesus has loved us.
Love requires Jesus.
In the end, to love like Jesus requires ... Jesus. If we’re going to love one another like Jesus we need the love of Jesus filling us up and being poured out from us. 1 John 4:19 tells us that We love because He first loved us. Loving is a response to being loved.
So be loved! Get close to Jesus, draw near to him, seek his face, worship him and let him overwhelm and consume you with his incomprehensible love for you!
My prayer for us is these words from the Apostle Paul, found in Ephesians 3:17-19:
I pray that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.