Tuesday, December 5, 2017

A New Command

Chuckle: "Did you hear about the dyslexic Satanist? He sold his soul to Santa!"
Quote: "It is our care for the helpless, our practice of lovingkindness, that brands us (Christians) in the eyes of our opponents. 'Look!' they say, 'how they love one another! Look how they are prepared to die for one another!'" --Tertullian (160-225 AD)
Jesus to His disciples, "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" (John 13:34-35 NIV).
From the time that Moses received the Old Testament Law from God, the standard for loving others was, "love your neighbor as yourself." For the sake of discussion, let's call this "neighborly love." But Jesus went far beyond neighborly love when He described the kind of love we should have for one another as brothers and sisters in Christ -- the kind of sacrificial love He had shown for his disciples and has shown for you and me.
I believe Jesus gave this "new command" to His disciples because:
    (1) They had experienced Jesus' love first hand and could now understand the dimensions of that love.
    (2) They were experiencing a major crisis because their Lord, teacher, mentor, and companion was about to leave them, and they needed a new kind of love for each other to see them through.
    (3) Soon after His resurrection, Jesus would give them the most awesome task ever given, the Great Commission, to evangelize the whole world. To be successful in this mission, they would need a Christ-like love for each other and for a lost world. 
No longer is "love your neighbor as yourself" sufficient for Christ's followers. Now we are commanded to love one another in the same way Jesus has loves us -- a love that:
    (1) Is based on Jesus' example. "As I have loved you, so you must love one another." The apostle Paul put it this way: "Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us . . ." (Ephesians 5:1-2). This kind of love is unconditional and demands nothing in return.
    (2) Gives credibility to our witness. "By this all men will know that you are my disciples." When those we are trying to reach for Christ see us loving one another the way Jesus loves us, our words will ring true and we have credibility. Others will be drawn to Christ by His love.
    (3) Is demonstrated by our actions. "Dear children, let us love not with words or tongue, but with actions and truth" (1 John 3:18). This means going out of our way to encourage, strengthen and otherwise help one another. It means placing the welfare of others ahead of our own. It means giving even when it hurts. It means doing whatever is necessary to meet spiritual, physical, and emotional needs of our brothers and sisters in Christ.
    (4) Is a love not of our own strength. Loving one another as Jesus loves us is impossible in our own strength, but is entirely possible when we allow Jesus, in the form of His indwelling Holy Spirit, to love through us. "I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me" (Galatians 2:20). Allowing Jesus to love through us is dependent upon our love for Him. Jesus said, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my words" (John 14:23). If we truly love our Lord, we will obey this "new command."
Love, Jerry & Dotse


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