13:31 When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him.
13:32 If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once.
13:33 Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’
13:34 I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.
13:35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
This passage gives us two different ways in which love was to be represented. In verse 34, the disciples were called to imitate the love that Christ had to them towards others. In verse 35 that love was what would be the main ingredient that would set them apart.
- Love others as Christ loved them: Christ’s love that He modeled for them was sacrificial. He was beaten, mocked, humiliated and ultimately put to do death for our sins so that we would not have to. He endured God’s ultimate wrath and punishment for our wrong and sin so that He could spare us from having to go through it. In the same way, we are to show that love towards those around us. We are to put others needs before ours and set aside our own comforts just as Christ did for us.
- Love is what sets us apart: The way we live, speak, act and think is what will stand out to others. We are called to be different and to be a shinning light to the rest of the world. The very foundation to all of that is love. Love produces kindness towards others. Grace instead of judgment. Forgiveness instead of holding grudges. Love shines a light in the darkest places and allows for others to see Christ living in us.
When I see the church today and how many Christian denominations are fading away I think it’s clear what the problem is; the church has suffered from widespread lack of loving people. It’s been said that the greatest threat to Christianity is Christians who profess Jesus with their lips but not with their actions. I agree with this.
Inversely, those ministries that have practiced this kind of Christianity, where we love our neighbors and pray for our enemies, have flourished. This was always a key in the growth of the persecuted church. Both in China and Africa today and in Europe centuries ago, it’s the testimony of the Christians who love even in the midst of persecution that provide explosive expansion and growth in the kingdom.
Why is this love so powerful? Because God wired us to love and receive love. It’s the most basic human need. The body of Christ cannot survive without love.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (1 Cor 13:13)
[Featured image from http://plainadventure.com]