Love One Another - A Focused Look (revised)
More than Just a Command
John 13:34-35 (NIV)
"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."
Jesus didn’t mince his words in giving this command to the men of His inner circle. These eleven men who remained after the departure of Judas; had no idea of how much they were really in for. Jesus was about to hand them the key as well as the instructions of what was required to truly be one of His disciples. In directing them to follow this imperative it should also be understood that it implies directly to the followers of Christ for all time. The reality of this is seen in the fact that it was these same men who established the faith and the foundation for "The Body of Christ" everywhere... in essence the beginning of... "The Church." It is this one command that initiates the underlining core of what it is to fellowship in the brotherhood of faith. Later. in His "Farewell Discourse", Jesus expands His explanation of why this is so necessary for all believers.
John 15:9-17 (NIV)
9 "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.
Love is an action that makes it necessary for something to be done. Before man was created, before creation was begun; God demonstrated his attention to Himself as a triune being and his attention to his desire for a relationship with man. Mankind didn’t exist. We did nothing to foster that desire. It was God’s choice and His will. The only counsel was the Godhead; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. What was done was simply this... God gave attention to a need for something and someone other than Himself. At the very least, love requires attention to the need of another.
10 If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love.
When it comes to the commandments, it is not a question of being ruled but an act of appreciation. It is simply returning the attention given with an appreciating heart. Without attention and appreciation, there is no relationship.
11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.
Jesus felt the joy that comes when a relationship with God is established genuinely. He wanted that same feeling of joy to be experienced by all of his disciples… not just the first twelve.
12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.
The Disciples Command
This connection was so necessary and important, that it couldn’t be left as a simple request. Jesus commanded it.
13 Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.
There can be no greater demonstration of the attention given in love than the sacrifice of ones life for another. Now most of us won’t go as far as Jesus did, but we can sacrifice greatly of the things that go into our life. Things like our time, our abilities, our finances, and other resources can be given in place of our life itself. At the very least we can all concede our attention and appreciation for what has already been done on our behalf.
14 You are my friends if you do what I command.
The command is given but the choice is still up to us to enter into a relationship as a friend. This is what makes love proactive; it requires a decision and action on our part. It also allows us to extend love to another person without their necessarily earning it. It’s not done because of their acts or actions, but rather as a display of loyal appreciation and attention to Christ.
15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.
By making the reasoning clear, Jesus allows us to transcend from the role of a mere servant, acting out of compulsion, and enter into the place of a companion, one who gives full cooperation because of respect and willingness.
16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.
Discipleship. Fellowship, and Friendship... Same Thing
It is an honor to be thought of and given the attention necessary to be found worthy. It says a lot about the character seen in us necessary for the undertaking. This is the charge of all those who accept the calling to belong to the “Fellowship of Christ”. That fellowship… known as the Church is given the task to go and bear fruit. It is our basic mission to reach others with the real love that is found in Christ, and teach them to understand that same love to the fullest extent. It is a vital mission… one in which we have the promise of God’s reward.
17 This is my command: Love each other.
Simply by following this single command, the Church was established by those who followed Jesus. It forms the foundation for Churches everywhere and ours is no different. If we are to grow we must start at the beginning with the very basics. It’s a formula that has been tested and is well proven. I encourage you to consider this command… not just from the surface but for all its really meant to be. As John said… “God is love”, and it will be impossible to be a follower without having the "Love of God"… securely within you.