John 13:34-35 and John 15:12-17
When I was growing up, I always wondered what the mark of the church was. I loved the churches I was a part of, but what was so confusing was that I could always sense the tension between brothers and sisters in Christ. Sometimes it was socioeconomic, sometimes it was political, sometimes it was historical, so while I was being taught one truth, I was seeing something else being lived out. And the real trouble was, that when these things were brought up by dear saints in the various congregations, it was always immediately met with “Well as long as there are people, there will be sin, and as long as there is sin, there will be disagreement.”
Now, I hope you understand that I know that’s true. I mean look at what happens when a husband and wife go into a paint store together!
But there is a deeper issue. Modern western culture views the church as religious biggots. Zealots. Weak. Unloving. And certainly not “God-like” in our everyday living. And what’s even more interesting is that only a small percentage of people with this view could draw realistic conclusions based on evidence found within church walls. If this is the case, then it must be reasonable to conclude that the world’s perspective of the church can only be based on individual moments (within the church or outside) where ungodly qualities were demonstrated by professing Christians and coupled with the blindness of the sin of the unbeliever.
God wants the world to look at His people and say, “I know they belong to Jesus.” The only way we will be able to overcome the perception of the world concerning the new life we have through Jesus, is to discover God’s concern for what he wants the world to see his church as, and the value he places on it,
Jesus gives a new commandment: John 13:34-35
Jesus is spending his final moments with the remaining eleven Apostles and is giving them some of their most challenging and intimate instruction yet. They were about to face life without Jesus physically present with them and the elephant in the room was “What are we going to do next? How are we going to carry on?”
Jesus’ instruction: Love one another as I have loved you.
This seems remarkably unhelpful doesn’t it? Peter even seems to completely dismiss it in following verses. What he didn’t see was that Jesus was giving them a glimpse into God’s larger design.
- God is concerned with His attribute of love being accurately depicted to the world.
- Any time we see the love of God in relation to mankind spoken of in theology, we immediately associate it with God’s giving of himself to us. His love is a sacrificial love. John 15 “Greater love hath no man than this, that he would lay down his life for his friends.”
- Jesus knew the propensity of these men. He knew they were prone to scatter in this moment. When their whole world wanted to kill him and all of them, he knew that the temptation would be to pull up camp and vanish. But God’ s plan wouldn’t be thwarted. You see, Jesus also knew that when a human being, particularly a redeemed human being loves, and is loved in return, it is far more difficult to let go and turn tail and run when times get hard.
- God wants the world to see his glory and love for his creation, which was such that when things were at their very darkest, he engaged, and he stayed until the fight was won at the cross. He has purposed for the church to be the reflection of that plan to the world.
II. God’s concern for his attribute of love being accurately demonstrated proves that he wants his people(Christians) to know they are loved.
- One of the most tragic reasons believers leave churches today isn’t because they disagree with one thing or another, it’s because not one single other believer gave time to let them know they are loved and cared for. Many times not a single church member has called them for coffee or had prayer with them in years.
- God is not a father who lets his children go through life not knowing whether or not he loves them. That’s why he gave us the commandment to “love one another”. The way he demonstrates his love for us is through his son Jesus dying on the cross and telling us to do the same for each other. He wants you to know today that he loves you dearly and that he is still your Heavenly Father who holds your very life in his hands, and nothing will ever cause him to let you go no matter how violent things get.
- One of the greatest lies a child of God can believe is that they will feel more loved by looking anywhere but the word and the church. We must be as concerned with building healthy, loving, and edifying relationships with other believers as God is. John 15 tells us that the very reason we have the fruits of the spirit is so that we CAN love one another within the life of the church! Now let me ask you, how can you exercise the fruits of the spirit that God has given you if you are isolated as a believer?
Questions for Application:
How are you obeying Christ’s command to love other Christians?
How can you improve?
Do you need to take necessary steps to restore a relationship with another believer so that you can be obedient?