September 7, 2018
"So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples." John 13:34-35 (NLT)
There's an image of Jesus I can't get out of my mind. It's found in Matthew 8. Jesus has ministered all day long. He's taught the crowds. He's healed a leper. He's counseled a lost man. He's prayed for Peter's mother-in-law who suffered with a dangerous fever.
Evening comes, and more crowds press in. They bring suffering and sick loved ones, and Jesus prays until the last one is gone.
Then He and the disciples climb into a boat to sail to the other side of the lake. Jesus is so physically exhausted that He falls asleep within moments. He remains asleep even as a terrifying storm sweeps in, and the boat nearly sinks.
That's how Jesus loved. That's how Jesus still loves: sacrificially. Nothing bears greater witness to that than the cross.
So when I read today's key verse, I'm a little intimidated.
"So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples" (John 13:34-35).
Right now I have T-shirts with inspiring messages hanging in my closet. I have placed bands around my wrist to tell the world I care. I have pinned fabric to my shirt for a specific cause. I have lifted my voice on social media to protest injustice.
But have I loved like Jesus?
This is far greater love than just wearing a cool T-shirt or posting a meme on social media for a current issue.
Jesus displayed His love by showing up where love was needed.
It may have been behind-the-scenes. It was hands-on. It required something of Him, and most of the time Jesus gave was to those with nothing to give in return.
Perhaps this commandment intimidates me because I'm not Jesus. The thought that I can do what He did or love like Him seems impossible. Yet that's not what Jesus is asking.
This wasn't a brand-new commandment, but rather a fresh take on an old one His followers would have known. The disciples had been told to love their neighbor before, but now that they knew first-hand what love looked like, Jesus was asking them to live it.
Essentially Jesus is saying, Now that you know what My love looks like:
- Include My love in your interaction with others,
- Show up where love is needed as I lead you,
- Don't try to be Me, but reflect Me in the way you treat others.
This is tangible love. This is sacrificial love.
Our faith will be most evident behind-the-scenes as we bring a meal to that neighbor in a hard place. It shows up when we choose not to reply unkindly to that person on social media who disagrees with our point of view. It's giving sacrificially to help those who are oppressed. It's forgiving. It's kindness. It's mercy. It's extravagant.
When we love as we've been loved by Jesus, it's more than a meme.
When we love as we've been loved, it identifies us as His in such a way that people see Jesus for themselves.
Dear Jesus, Your love for the world is beautiful. You love sacrificially. You love when there's nothing to gain in return. You love me daily when I fall short. Help me to show up, as You lead, where love is needed. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
1 John 4:19, "We love each other because he loved us first." (NLT)
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REFLECT AND RESPOND:
You and I aren't asked to be Jesus but to love like He does. He promises we'll have a Helper who will show us what to do. (John 4:16)
In what ways is Jesus asking you to show up where love is needed? Join the conversation, and let us know how God is leading you to love others like Jesus.
© 2018 by Suzie Eller. All rights reserved.