Christ Said to Love One Another
I’d like to give a “shout-out” to William Corbett over on LinkedIn.com for pointing me toward the topic of today’s post. He reminded me that the way that the world should know that people are Christians, according to the Lord Jesus Christ, is through our love for one another. (John 13:34-35) This alone says a lot.
I’m not a psychologist–clinical, research, or otherwise. I’ve never even played one on TV. But I’m pretty sure that psychologists the world over would agree that even the most solitary of human beings–and few of us are very solitary by choice–needs love.
Everyone needs love, yet it’s not easy to love everyone. People are disagreeable. Small children can be burdensome. Middle schoolers are arguers by nature. And I don’t know what it is with some bosses who still figure that fear is the best motivator. It’s just tough to love inconvenient, irritating, and intimidating people. Hey, it’s even difficult to love our spouses sometimes, if we’re honest. Why else would so many marriages end in divorce?
Jesus Christ Enables People to Love One Another
In John 13:34-35, when Jesus commanded His disciples to love one another, He qualified how they were to love. He said, “Just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”
Experts say that one of the best things that a mother and father can do for their children is to manifest love for one another as husband and wife. Children find security in knowing that Mom and Dad love one another. In that security, it is easier for the child to grow up with a healthy enough psyche to turn around and love others in a healthy and generous way. And besides, what love looks like has obviously been modeled for them, even–and maybe especially–through times of difficulty and disagreement.
It’s the same for disciples of the Lord Jesus. Living life as loved individuals, it is easier for us to know that we are taken care of. We can then turn our attention from introspective self-preservation to being thoughtful and loving toward others. If I know that God’s “got my back,” I can then turn to covering someone else’s interests without fear of me losing out.
The apostles saw and heard and personally felt the physical presence of Jesus Christ in front of them and among them. Love was modeled before their eyes. Forgiveness, followed by a firm admonition to go and sin no more (John 8:1-11) was a lesson in love of both kinds–gracious, yet tough.
We do not see Jesus Christ Himself with our eyes. Nevertheless, His word assures us that we are “beloved.” (Romans 1:7) “For this is the way God loved the world: He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
When we study God’s word in earnest, it’s hard to walk away from it without being assured that God loves us. When we observe people living in accordance with the revelation given in Scripture, a qualitative difference is observable–they love. And just as knowing that our parents love us makes it easier for us to develop into healthy, loving people, so also knowing that our Creator and Savior loves us does the same thing, but to an even greater degree. When our parents model love in working out differences, it helps their children learn appropriate ways to do the same. Once again, in a similar fashion, observing the modeled love of God at work teaches us what love looks like in real life circumstances.
Jesus Does More Than Just Model Love for Us
Beyond all this, there is something supernatural at work when Christ enters the life of a believer–something that enables the believer to love beyond that which he or she could before. First John 4:19 says, “We love because He first loved us.” God’s Spirit dwelling within us (Romans 8:9) enables us as believers to love beyond ordinary human ability to do so. As believers, God loves others through us, so to speak.
So in a world of needy people, yearning to be loved, Christ offers us love Himself, and He equips and enables those in whom He dwells to love beyond selfish, finite human love. I would say that finding that kind of love is a wonderful reason for believing in Jesus Christ.
If you’re having trouble loving someone in your life, give Jesus a chance to work in you and through you, to make you an agent of love in a harsh world.