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Love one another
- Jacob Ninan
Jesus gave this new commandment to His disciples (Jn.13:34,35). But even the old covenant had a commandment to love one another (Le.19:18). In what way did Jesus make this new? The old covenant spoke of loving others as ourselves. Jesus explained what the Law and the Prophets taught, that we should treat others as we want them to treat us (Mt.7:12). But this new commandment is about loving one another as Jesus loved us. Think deeply about the difference in level between the two.
Jesus loved us and gave Himself for us (Ep.5:2). He suffered and died in order to give us the blessing of eternal life. It was the thought of being able to bless us that motivated Him to go through the death on the cross (He.12:2). As our sins were laid upon Him He suffered a separation from His Father that had never happened in all eternity (Mt.27:46;Is.59:2). That is how much He loved us. And now we are asked to love one another just as He loved us.
When we love someone we also feel nice with them. But when we are commanded to love it means we are to be good and do good to the others. That is how we can love even our enemies -- in action. That is how God showed His love to us, in action (Jn.3:16).
How do we usually love one another? In general we love those who love us, and we do good to those who do good to us. Some people do good to others hoping that this will prompt the others to do good to them in return! To love others as we love ourselves is an extension of this kind of love. But the way Jesus has loved us is way above this.
With this Jesus' type of love we can love those who don't love us in return; in fact we can love even those who are out to do harm to us (Mt.5:44,45). We can do good to others not expecting that they will do good to us; they may not even acknowledge the good we do for them. We can make sacrifices of our time, money, energy, comforts and conveniences in order to do good for others. We can do this in an innumerable variety of ways, depending on our own calling from God. Jesus said that it would be this kind of love that would catch the attention of people and cause them to realise that it was Jesus who was behind this.
There are many who are following Jesus, even in the churches, looking for material blessings (Jn.6:26). It is not love for Jesus that draws them to Him, but what they hope to get from Jesus for themselves. But those who are disciples of Jesus love Him more than their own lives. They serve Him because of their love for Him. And when their love for Jesus floods their heart, it overflows in love for others also. They begin to serve the others and to do them good, even at great sacrifice to themselves. This is what distinguishes them from ordinary people.
We can't start loving like this by trying to love more, but by becoming better disciples of Jesus. We need to get rid of things that hinder us from loving and following Jesus, and then start loving Him more. Love for others will follow.