Love One Another
“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. 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… This is my command: Love each other.” – John 15:9-17
“You say you love each other… act like it!” How many times a day do I tell my children this phrase?? There are so many situations in which we treat each other badly because of fear or hurt. They lashed out to me, so I’m going to retaliate. They betrayed me, so I’m going to block them. “Us vs. Them” becomes a theme in our minds, our social media, and our conversations.
When Jesus commands his disciples to love each other, he breaks down the “them” and removes all the barriers that divide. When we look at the diversity of his rag-tag group of disciples, it’s pretty amazing that they had enough in common to even eat together, let alone, live together, travel around together, and follow the same teacher. Matthew was a tax collector – working with the Romans. Peter and Andrew, James and John were fishermen – blue collar workers who tended to be fiery about hating the Samaritans and were exploited by Roman taxation. A wealthy nobleman who was linked to the Pharisees, and three Zealots who were militant nationalists. In his book, Love Over Fear, Dan White, Jr., describes the disciples, “It’s like organizing a home church with a few Black Lives Matter protesters, blue-collar workers who believe Donald Trump will fix the country, a couple on public assistance while working for minimum wage at McDonald’s, a wealthy Republican gentleman who owns an oil refinery down south, and a member of Antifa. It’s an understatement to say these men would have loathed being in the same room with each other.” (pg. 88, Love Over Fear)
Jesus takes this group of natural enemies and makes them ALL his friends. Jesus gives them a new command, to love one another. They are all recipients of his service when Jesus washes their feet and then he tells them to wash one another’s feet. (John 13).
If we say we love God, we also are commanded to love others. How can we show the love of God to someone else today? Is God calling us to show extraordinary love, forgiveness, and generosity to the person we fear? Who is the one I have put in a box of “Them”, that perhaps I need to do the hard work of loving and changing my heart? It is in this act of love, that we will know the fullness of the overwhelming, neverending, restless love of God.
Loving God, we have not loved you or each other with our whole hearts. Forgive us, we pray, and lead us toward wholeness. Help us to love others as Christ has loved us. Bring us into the spiritual joy of living our lives as your friend, and teach us to abide in your love, that we may show that love to the world. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.