Why and how should we love one another at St Peters
Firstly, why? I’m sure you know that God commands us to love one another. Jesus is even prepared (in the gospel accounts) to summarize the entire Old Testament Law with: “Love the Lord your God AND love one another”… And so, in short, that’s the reason! We love because God tells us to love (and, yes, because He first loved us…)
But secondly, how? How are we going to be able to love one another as God has commanded? I’m sure it’s not just me… but it’s really difficult to love people well (even our “loved ones”). And that’s not to mention those who are so different to us and therefore so much harder to love…
The truth we must begin with is that our hearts are tainted with sin. We tend to love ourselves more than we love other people. Our default setting, if you like, is to look out for “number 1”, not some other different, strange, difficult, complicated people…
We need to believe this Biblical truth and start here! Unless we can be honest enough to admit our own condition, we will struggle to find motivation to put other people before ourselves. Especially when those same people are struggling to put us ahead of themselves… I’m sure you can see the problem!
Where then, does the motivation to love one another come from? Listen to what Jesus says about showing love for one another in John’s gospel…
In John 13:34&35 Jesus says: “A new command I give to you: Love one another.” It would be weird if Jesus had left it there (what’s new about this command?), but he goes on to say: “As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” In fact, says Jesus: “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
When we were broken and sinful and estranged (when we were thoroughly unlovable) Jesus loved us first. So, we who now love him, follow his example and love others in the same way!! That’s powerful… If you’re anything like me you’re quick to go: “Thank you Jesus for loving me” but “don’t ask me to love him, or her, or them…”
In John 15:12&13 Jesus says it again: “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” Again, Jesus’ love (his love that cost him his own life) becomes our motivation to love each other, even when it’s very, very costly. After all, Jesus bore the ultimate “cost” – he laid down his own life!
So how can we show love like Jesus showed love? How can we know how to love and how to keep on loving? Listen to what Jesus says in John 15:9&10: “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love.”
Jesus’ love for us is an outworking of the Father’s love for him and it can be seen in his obedience to his Father. In the same way, our love for one another must be an outworking of Jesus’ love for us and must be seen in our obedience to his commands… Not least of all his command to love one another!
In summary: in the Gospel, we find both the pattern of love and the motivation for love. So, let the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ shape and motivate you and me to love one other at St Peters – just as Jesus has loved us.
by Sean Savides