As we approach Easter, it’s been a blessing to ponder the final instructions Christ gave to His disciples in the upper room only hours before His crucifixion…
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)
Christ commanded us not to simply love, but to love by a new standard; as Christ loved – agape or unconditional love. Christ welcomed the outcast, the unlovable and “untouchables” of society (that just about covers all of us). Not only did Christ love us, but He literally took up His cross, suffered and proved it.
What a challenge He gives us as we consider our own Christ likeness! I don’t know about you but I have trouble loving my own husband (or children, parents, friends) when they are unlovable, selfish, unresponsive, insensitive, undeserving or when they make mistakes causing me to suffer – when they are “untouchables.”
Yet, we easily fool ourselves into thinking we love others well since most of us love brilliantly when others make it easy to love them. But everyone can do that! Even a dog won’t bite the hand that feeds him. The hard question is… “Can I love well when I’m most challenged? Do I even have the ability?”
The answer is, Yes! Christ reveals it in the text, “love one another, even as I have loved you.”
You see, not only is Christ saying “I’m the example, so love others in the same way as I love you” He is saying something much more. The word “as” is also translated elsewhere in Scripture as “since” or “because”. In other words, Jesus is also saying, “…since I have loved you, now you can love one another.” It’s a before and after statement…
BEFORE Christ, your love was a natural love born of the flesh. AFTER you came to Christ, whether you felt the holy goose bumps or not you experienced an ontological change and your love became born of the Spirit too. In fact, agape love is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22) – a grace given as a result of true salvation.
So if you believe you can’t love people when they are unlovable or unlovely, think again! The real truth is you can love even in those most challenging moments BECAUSE Christ loved you and is now living in you. To believe otherwise is to believe a lie. It’s not about performance; it’s about allowing a truth to flow through you into the lives of others.
Will we always get it right? Not on the flesh side of eternity. But when you blow it, the problem is not the truth; the problem is what you believe. As humans we live out what we believe, not necessarily what is true. The key is to merge the two.
When the children of God live out this truth and love as Christ loved… a watching world looks at us and says, “He has risen indeed!”