Love is a wonderful thing. It validates our ministries and manifests the nature of God. That’s on the one hand. On the other hand it makes us incredibly vulnerable. It opens us to rejection. It takes a lot of time and effort that can seem to be wasted on people who don’t appreciate it. So why should we do it? Why should we make the effort to love one another? I can give you three concrete reasons.
The first and foremost reason we should love one another is that we have been commanded to do so by the Lord Jesus Christ. Let’s look at what He said to his followers in John 13:34.
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.
He actually repeated this commandment more than once.
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” John 15:12
“These things I command you, so that you will love one another.” John 15:17
In order to grasp the importance of this, we first have to consider what a commandment is. A commandment is a basic directive from the Lord outlining the path He demands His people to follow. Once the directive has been given there is to be no debate, nor are there further options given. The only choice in the matter is to either obey or disobey. If there was no other reason for us to love one another, this alone would be reason enough for us to do so.
Besides being commanded to love one another, do we not also have a moral obligation to love one another? Think about what the apostle John wrote in 1st John 4:9 – 10.
9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
The first thing we see in these verses is how God loved us. He demonstrated His love for us by giving us the very best He had: His one and only Son. He held nothing back in showing us how great His love for us really was.
Besides showing us how God loved us, they also show us when God loved us. He loved us when we didn’t love Him. In fact, He loved us when we were at are very worst. He didn’t wait for us to improve our situation before reaching out to us in love.
Because these two things are true regarding God’s love for us, we are morally obligated to love one another in like manner. There are three important questions we need to consider in this regard.
Because we have been greatly loved, can we do any less than love others greatly?
Because we were loved when we were at our worst, can we then insist that others be at their best before we love them?
If we have no sense of moral obligation to love others, is it because we do not fully appreciate the love we have received from the Lord?
In John 13:35 Jesus says,
“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Notice He didn’t say that people would know we were His disciples because of our doctrines, our church buildings, or our worship services. The distinguishing mark of being a full-on follower of Jesus Christ is to be found in the way we treat our brothers and sisters. When we point fingers, judge, fight, and split from one another, we mar the image of the One whom we all claim to serve. But when we respond to one another with tolerant meekness, submit to one another and seek to build one another up, people see the nature of God reflected in our lives. If love is not our distinguishing mark as followers of Christ, is it because we are not really following Christ after all?
There Are No Options
As those who are seeking to serve the King, there are no options where love is concerned. We have been commanded by our King to love one another. Having been so greatly loved ourselves, it would be a great disservice to our King to love others any less. Let us nail it down once and for all, love is to be the distinguishing uniform worn by all those who are truly living in the Reign.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright ©2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.