““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
What is “love” like? How do we understand love when we come short of it, all the time?
We understand love by coming to know Jesus. He not only explains it, but He also exhibits it–He puts it out in the public eye for all to see. His explanation of what love is will mean a cruel death in order to save us. When Jesus dies, I am saved. My salvation has absolutely nothing to do with me– and everything to do with Him, and all that He has done.
Jesus helps us to see others. He makes a definitive statement, that we are to love others. We are to use what He has done for me, as an example. What Jesus did is the pattern, the prototype. We are to be the photostat or mimeograph. As believers we are to be captured and drawn into this approach.
We are to find someone, and then, in some sense, ‘die’ for them. That is the way God’s love is.
That very strong word, “must” in verse 34 cannot escape our attention. It implies a deep and a very definite commitment to doing that is beyond us. We ‘must’ connect and receive all that moves through our life. We love the unlovely, and this is irrational. God says that people are worth crucifixion. We’re the criminals, and the judge has sentenced us. And then He Himself has decided to pay our penalty. This is ‘agape’ love.
We must love accurately. We should love the way He loves us. We cannot do anything less.
But the love of Jesus is tracking each wanderer. He is working to connect with every person on this planet. No one escapes His view, or His love. Everyone who belongs to Him, is required to know this. Our Lord is definitely not going to move if there are still “seekers” still out there. He leaves no one behind.
Loving others will require a significant broadening of the way we see things. We purposefully lift up Jesus because He lifted us. We exalt Him because we have discovered we are so pitiful. We must be convinced, that His way, is the way of the cross.
We must love more accurately —the same way He loves us. We cannot do anything less. For many of us, love is just a concept–a way of feeling ‘warm and fuzzy’ inside. But it is far more than feeling nice thoughts. It is all about “the extra mile” and we honestly can’t make that trip if we haven’t been willing to die ourselves.