Love – it’s not as easy as it sounds!

At Hub, we’re in the middle of an 8 part series called Christian.  We’re exploring the idea of what the term Christian means.  We’ve learned that while the term Christian is only used 3 times in the Bible and not at all defined in the New Testament that the term disciple is defined and used almost exclusively for followers of Jesus. Being a disciple is well defined and in a lot of ways scary because the Bible is so specific about the meaning.

I have come to realize the most powerful and most specific description of a follower of Jesus com-s from the very direct command he gave in John 13:

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” (John 13:34 ESV)

If you just look at it you might say, “Yeah love.  I get it.  Sounds good.”  But if you really think about it and understand the ramifications of this command it will change your life.

First notice he says love one another (twice actually).  Who is he talking to?  The 12 disciples less Judas (he had already left to betray Jesus which was not very loving) specifically and to all his disciples generally.  What is he referring to?  How disciples are to love other disciples.

The second thing to notice and I think the hardest words to understand is “just as I have loved you”!  So how did he love them?  That is a big question with some very obvious answers (that is if you read the New Testament, especially the first 4 books).  He said that he loved them as friends even as brothers.  He shared life with them in some really dramatic ways  – think about all the parties, teaching them about life, healing people, answering their often stupid questions,  and never giving up on them (even after stupid questions).  He even said he would even die for them and he did by the way.

So right before he is about to die here in this room where has gathered his best friends – people he shared three years of his life with and later his very life for – he tells them to love each other like I have loved you – yikes!  I dunno if I want to go as far as he did!  I do want other people love me that way but  it do that myself may be really difficult.

What really is scary to me is what he says next?  And before I share it I need to say it’s not because I fear how other followers of Jesus will act upon it.  It has more to do with how I will act upon it and what people will think of me based on it.

He says other people will know about me and him and God and about “Christians” based on how I love other followers of Jesus.

“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”” (John 13:35 ESV)

Ok, I want to be very honest and clear here. I stink at this!  I’m not just saying this for shock value or to seem all humble and stuff.  I really stink at this.  I want to treat you based on how you treat me or based on how other people like you or not like you treated me earlier in life.   I want to do the old eye-for-an-eye thing.  If people are going to look at me to see what being a follower is about then I want to go into hiding or stand there and point at the guy beside me. It’s too much to ask.

And I won’t be able to fake it, at least not forever and for the big stuff. My pride just won’t let me. That’s why this is so scary when we read it.  It means I actually am going to have to honestly love people.  People with whom I may disagree how they act and people who may believe differently than I do and people who maybe haven’t read this verse!  Because Jesus made it a command, not a suggestion, and he said it would be our calling card.  When we went out and people looked at us (disciples, followers or whatever we call ourselves) we would be defined by how we treated other disciples, followers or whatever.

He knew we would be changed by this.  With this simple command we would have to evaluate our entire understanding of love, pride and being a Christian! I think must have been the point.  Love, true love, changes us and the people around us. What if people saw Christians acting this way?

If we read in a letter that Paul wrote to a church in Corinth then we know that “love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” (1Cor 13:4-8)

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