“I give you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, so you also must love each other. This is how everyone will know that you are my disciples, when you love each other.”
John 13:34-35 CEB
Maybe it is the afterglow of the royal wedding and Bishop Michael Curry’s sermon. Maybe it is because YouVersion sent this verse to my email on Friday, May 18th. Either way, the idea of love is the defining nature of what it means to be a Christian has always called to me.
Love is what Christ is. Love is who God is. We as disciples are called to love because “this is how everyone will know that you are my disciples.” Loving one another as Christ loved us is our command. Yet, why does it have to be so hard?
love my family. My wife and two kids are precious to me and although I get angry at them, I never stop loving them. I love them so much I would die for them. When Facebook memories pop up, I can be brought to tears thinking about how much life we have shared and how deep my love goes.
I love God. I attempt to understand God, learn who God is, grow in my relationship with God and as life moves on I love God deeper today then I did five years ago. I know what God has done for me, calls me to do and how God walks with me each and every day. I can feel God’s presence in my life and I pray I can live a life that glorifies the God who I love and who loves me.
We are fine loving God and loving those close to us. Yet, God doesn’t call us to love God and family alone. God calls us to love each other. It is the “each other” that I admit I have a hard time with. I have a hard time when God asks me to love the person who rants in a grocery store that everyone should speak English in one of the most diverse cities in our nation. I have a hard time loving the person who is constantly rude to the server at a restaurant because they want to exert some sort of power over a person in the service industry. I have a hard time loving those who hate Democrats or Republicans because they are seen as enemies. I have a hard time loving those who look across the world, at the vast kaleidoscope of humanity, and only see populations to exploit for cheap labor to increase profits.
This is not living into Jesus’ command to love each other. I admit I struggle with loving these people, yet God calls me to do so.
We want to fix others in order to make them more lovable. We will love a Democrat only if she starts to think and act like a Republican. We will love those in the Ivory Coast or Honduras, only when they start to think and act like Americans. We demand change in order to be worthy of love.
Jesus doesn’t demand this. Jesus’ command is for us to love each other. There is a change, but the change is within us. The change is not to demand others to bend to our will, our ideals, or our views. The change is to change the way I, we, see each other. We need to see them as God sees them. When we do we can then love them as Jesus commands.
When I walk around the assortment of humanity in Walmart, and the same goes for Target or Costco for that matter, I am reminded constantly of the hard task it is to love other humans. Yet that is our command. “Love each other. Just as I have loved you, so you also must love each other.” (I added the emphasis)
If I do not follow this command, if I live a life full of hate and bitterness towards others, then I will not be counted as a disciple of Jesus Christ. I swallow hard and trudge on. I make mistakes but I seek and strive loving God and others perfectly because that is what a disciple of Jesus Christ is commanded to do.