- July 28, 2021
You can’t consider the purposes of the church without considering the vital directive Jesus gave His disciples in John 13:34, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” The command to love one another was not new to the disciples. When a teacher
You can’t consider the purposes of the church without considering the vital directive Jesus gave His disciples in John 13:34, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”
The command to love one another was not new to the disciples. When a teacher of the Law asked Jesus about the greatest command, Jesus responded, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: love your neighbor as yourself.” Mark 12:28-34.
Clearly, the command to love one another was not new, but the qualifier was. The qualifier of the old command was, “as you love yourself.” The new qualifier, “as I have loved you,” elevated love to its highest possible expression — essentially making it a new command.
Jesus said, “No greater love has anyone than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” After explaining the “as I have loved you” qualifier, Jesus then laid down His life for us. Jesus offered to us the highest expression of love — and He asks you and me to do the same for each other.
But let me ask you: when do we actually take the time to offer self-sacrificing love to others? We’re busy people. Between work and family and civic responsibilities and hobbies, we just don’t have time to love others at that level. Most of us can barely cram an hour into our schedules to go to church services on Sunday. Who has time to dedicate to truly offering selfless love to someone else?
It’s a tough question, but can we really claim to be the Church if we’re not taking the time required to love others?
It takes time to love, but it also takes energy. Loving others usually requires emotional, physical, and mental effort. Like time, most of us run on empty when it comes to energy. Many of us get out of bed tired — and we collapse back into bed at the end of the day. Who has the energy required to offer selfless love to someone else?
The fear of missing out, nowadays known as FOMO, has many of us running on empty. There are so many good things to see and do — and we don’t want to miss out on any of them! Our calendars are full, our energy reservoirs are sapped, and our churches are loveless, lifeless, and irrelevant. I doubt it’s a coincidence. A church devoid of fellowship that truly offers self-sacrificing love isn’t a Church. It might be a beautiful museum, a friendly social club, or even an effective self-help group, but it isn’t a Church.
Jesus gave us a way to determine if we’re succeeding at the love-one-another command. After giving the command and the new qualifier in John 13:34, He then tells us how to know if we’re getting it right in verse 35, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.”
By that test, how are we doing? Do people look at our churches and say to themselves, “Wow! Now there’s a group of people who really know how to love each other!” That would be great, but most of us would probably have to admit that the church-world is better known for infighting, hypocrisy, condemnation, irrelevance, and neediness (volunteers and money) than for anything resembling self-sacrificing love. It hurts to admit it, but in too many cases, it’s true.
What would it take for the church-world to get back on track? The answer lies within each and every one of us and our willingness to offer the sacrifices of selfless love. Until we’re willing to get love-one-another right, the church-world will remain loveless, lifeless, and irrelevant.