So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” John 13:34-35
Jesus commands a new way of living - to Love One Another, His way. And this command was central to the way of living of the early Church. The problem with the commands of Jesus is that we cannot choose which ones we live by. The life of a follower of Jesus is no simple task because our human nature, and our own desires can be selfish, and contrary to the command of Christ to Love One Another.
The faith required by this command is a world changer. Jesus makes a promise to us saying that we will prove to the world that we are His disciples - in other words the way of Jesus will be so radical, the world will take notice and be challenged. When we actually believe we are in Christ, what else really matters? Only His Kingdom matters. Why do we make choices that honour Jesus and His life? Because He first loved us, and now, everything else matters far less finding its proper place under Christ. Our values, choices and lifestyle become transformed by Jesus, and are being changed by following Jesus.
The “will prove” in John 13:35 is a clear statement of promise Jesus gives us. That through our love for one another, everyone will know that we are His disciples. How? “If you love one another.” This is how everyone, believers and non-believers, will know that we belong to Christ and anyone who is Christ’s is safe and secure in knowing they are born-again (John 6:37, John 10:28-29).
But this safety and security in Christ does not stay home - rather it is naturally called outwards, finding an outward and practical and tangible expression in our love for one another. The way of Jesus is radical, providing real hope for the poor and the oppressed to live His way because nothing else really matters. The way of discipleship in Acts 2 shows that people where loving one another by sharing fellowship and possessions - amazing.
But what about us who are not poor or oppressed? In contrast, think about Jesus speaking in Matthew 19.
But when the young man heard this, he went away sad, for he had many possessions. Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is very hard for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. I’ll say it again—it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!” Matthew 19:22-24
Our mistake often as westerners in Australia is that we think 'we' are not like this rich man, we are just average, or slightly above average at best. After all, none of us takes our helicopter to Church! Then perhaps we fool ourselves when we say 'we are not rich'. So test this passage of scripture in your heart, and take a moment and think about yourself in the context of the world...
The rich man in Matthew 19 to some degree is us...we all have many possessions...each one of us. WE ARE RICH! Many of us have travelled and seen the poverty and lack, and many have served and lived in nations where the poor are more than visible, the poor are the norm - and even poorer when compared to ourselves. It is important is that we recognise that we are like the rich ruler who Jesus gave the challenge...'sell all your possessions'.
Perhaps for us, Jesus gives us the same challenge today. Is Jesus really number 1 in your life? Do you really follow His commands? Are you willing to be His disciple? And are you committed to loving one another?
The early Church found this way of living normal. And that normal was incredible. Exciting. Joyful. Peaceful. Genuine. Fellowship. Common. Generous. Loving.
Maybe it is the way life was meant to be lived.
So what can we do? We are blessed to be a blessing, so this week, take another step and...
...show some kindness.
...call someone and encourage them.
...take someone out for lunch and bless them with fellowship.
...find a way to bless another, just because.
...be motivated by His love, and reflect that love to another.
Because Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples. John 13:35