“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (Jn. 13:34-35, NRSV)
In the third century, Tertullian reported that when talking about Christians, the Romans would exclaim, “See how they love one another!” Would outsiders observing the church today say the same thing about us?
Our culture places high value on practicing tolerance and being “nice.” While those things are certainly a little piece of love, they are only a shadow of the quality of love Jesus is talking about. Jesus says that the kind of love that causes outsiders to stand up and take notice is the kind of love He modeled. Think about how Jesus loved:
* Jesus risked His reputation to defend those who had no voice.
* He forgave people who mistreated Him.
* He hung out with people no one else wanted to be seen with.
* To care for others, Jesus sacrificed His personal rights (time, space, privacy, meals, sleep).
* Jesus saw the best in people. He stuck with and believed in His imperfect friends to the very end.
* And ultimately, Jesus laid down His life for His friends—and enemies.
How does the love that Jesus practiced go over and above tolerating and “being nice”? What would it take for the Christian community you are part of to love one another as Jesus loved? How might love like that sometimes be an even stronger witness for Jesus than traditional types of evangelism?
Invite Jesus to teach you more about how He loves. First, reflect on all the ways He has loved you. Thank Him for loving you like that and ask Him to help you experience His love even more deeply. Then, ask Him to show you how to share that same quality of love with others.