As Jesus was having His last conversation with His disciples before His crucifixion, He gave them a new command for living. We read this in John 13:34-35. The new command was to love each other, just as Christ loves us. It’s important to note Jesus said this command was a hallmark of being His disciple. People will recognize we follow Jesus by the love we display for others.
Unless we love those around us, we will never be a disciple of Christ. God’s very nature is love, so if we want to look and live like Jesus, we must love people. Without love, we’re just making noise (1 Corinthians 13:1). Unless we love, we will never make a difference in this world.
John was there when Jesus gave the new command to His disciples. He heard it from the lips of God Himself. And it stuck with him. Once you hear God speak, you can never forget it. When John was a much older man and overseeing several churches throughout Asia Minor, he wrote a series of instructions to these churches, preserved in the Bible as the books of First, Second, and Third John. In 1 John 2:3-9, John reiterates the new command Jesus gave to His disciples in the upper room. Love for your brother and sister is required for loving God. You cannot hate others and love God. It doesn’t work.
What if God chose to hate some and love others? What hope would there be for those who fell on the hate side of the ledger? No, where true love exists, hatred of others cannot be found. We hate sin (see “God Hates Sin”), we hate much of what goes on in the world, and we can hate the actions of people. But the individuals themselves, we must love. Why? Because God loves them. If we want to love like Christ, we must love everyone unconditionally.
I confess there are many people I don’t want to love. They are evil, have hurt me or those I love, or annoy me to no end. I don’t want to love them. But the new command given by Jesus has no loopholes. The instruction is clear: love others just as He loves us. If we want to obey Christ, if we want to be His disciple, then love for others must be our calling card.
Without the Holy Spirit of God in our lives, this will be impossible. Unless we surrender our pride, preferences, and our very life to Christ, we cannot keep the new command He gave to us. Remember, the Lord knows our hearts. He sees our motivation. We won’t obey the new command perfectly. We’ll mess up. As long as we deeply desire to love others as Christ loves us, we’ll be okay. This life is all about growing in the likeness of Christ. The more we want to love others, the more we will. The more we seek the good in difficult people, the more we will find it.
Jesus gave us a new command. We are to love everyone else, just as He loves us. It’s a daunting assignment, but one every follower of Christ must embrace. As you go throughout your day, look for opportunities to demonstrate love to your spouse, your family, your friends, and absolute strangers. Share a smile and an encouraging word. Take the time to listen when others speak. Ask the Holy Spirit for the humility, grace, and power to love as He loves. Now, go, love somebody today.