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‘Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another’

Rev. Ron Colangelo
Posted 9/26/20

The Bible says we are to love one another. Sounds good, but can we do it? No, not without the Holy Spirit. Some people are just irritating. Even people at church can be difficult to love. Sometimes …

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‘Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another’

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The Bible says we are to love one another. Sounds good, but can we do it? No, not without the Holy Spirit.

Some people are just irritating. Even people at church can be difficult to love. Sometimes we sing a chorus in church: “I’m so glad you’re a part of the family of God,” and then we look at the person beside us and sing, “I’m surprised you’re part of the family of God.” Just being real. I’ve seen it happen. Sometimes it’s hard enough to love our own family.

So, how do we make love a dominating characteristic of our lives?

I. Make love a priority. Indeed loving people is difficult. Yet this is what the Bible commands. “For this is the message you have heard from the beginning: we should love one another” (1 John 3:11). We spend time on what we deem important. For many of us these choices are valid: time with family and friends, work, prayer, serving the poor, fighting for rights, protesting wrongs. But as the Scripture reminds us, “And if I donate all my goods to feed the poor, and if I give my body in order to boast but do not have love, I gain nothing” (1 Cor. 13:3).

Even though we have the freedom to set our own priorities, Jesus made a point of defining certain ones of them for us: “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and most important commandment. The second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’” (Matt. 22:37-39). Love, then, is not a gray area the Scriptures. Jesus gave love priority over all other Christian virtues. Every thought, response, and act of goodwill must first pass through the fine filter of love, or it means nothing at all. But why love? What makes it so important?

II. Understand the importance of love. When Jesus spoke to the disciples regarding the first and second greatest commands, he explained that “All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands” (Matt. 22:40). To the people of Israel, as well as for many believers today, it would seem more logical for the act of obedience. Because the point of writing a law is adherence to it. And it is written, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15). Yet Jesus also said, “I give you a new commandment: love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another” (John 13:34). The apostle Paul goes on to tell us “Love does no wrong to a neighbor. Love, therefore, is the fulfillment of the law” (Rom. 13:10).

The logic of Paul’s interpretation of Jesus’ command that love fulfills the Law seems equally simple. For if one loves his neighbor, he will not commit adultery with his neighbor’s spouse. If he loves his coworker, he will not lie to him. And if he loves his enemy, he will not slander him. Love fulfills the law, because if we truly love every person because he IS a person, we will not desire to hurt or violate him or her, thus never break the law.

God established love as the force for obedience. When we demonstrate Christian love, it distinguishes believers from the rest of the world. Jesus goes on to say, “By this [love] all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). Notice Jesus did not say that people will know that you are my disciples if you promote my agenda, or wear Christian T-shirts or a WWJD bracelet, or have a fish decal on your car, but rather if you love one another. The world is watching! “God is love, and the one who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him.

Believers are God’s advertisement to a watching society. When we love as he as loved us, it will make the difference. People will notice. Christian love is indispensable. Because people matter so much to him, they ought to matter to us. And, we, therefore, need to love them as he loves them. Love makes a statement and leaves a legacy. It does the unexpected, surprising, and stirring. It performs acts that steal the heart and leaves an impression on the soul. Often these acts are never forgotten. God loves you, and so do I. May God bless you all in this ever changing world.

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