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So We Must Love One AnotherMarch 20, 2023
This is a busy time of year for most people. Getting the kids or grandkids to a thousand activities, busy work schedules, church activities during the Easter season, and family activities can really wear us down. Too often when our schedules get hectic our prayer lives suffer as well, which will add emotional and spiritual fatigue to our physical fatigue.
What we need, whether we are tired or full of energy, is to be reminded we are loved. In John 13:34, Jesus says, “A new commandment I give you. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” No one else but the Son of God could have spoken such powerful words of love, while his world was crashing down around him.
“As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” Judas has just left to betray him. He has announced his impending death to the disciples who don’t understand him. He predicts Peter will deny him three times before morning. The disciples will fall asleep when he asks them to stay awake in the Garden of Gethsemane, and abandon Jesus when his rigged trial turns against him. In this setting how can Jesus talk about a commandment of love?
Yet never has the command to love one another as Jesus has loved been more needed than on the night before Jesus’ crucifixion. It sets the stage for Jesus to rally his frightened disciples after his resurrection into a force that changed the world. Jesus had taught them, healed them, served them, and loved them. All this was not enough. So, he prepared himself to die for them. And that was enough. Thank God, that was enough.
At last the disciples were infected with the love of God, and they wrote these words on their hearts, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). Those first Christians found power in loving each other as Jesus loved them that can only be described as divine. As we know, the faith of Jesus’ disciples not only survived, but thrived, as they surrounded fellow brothers and sisters of Christ with love so infectious that non-believers confessed, “Surely this must be the son of God” (Matthew 27:54), and joined the church in large numbers, even during persecution.
Never has the command to love one another, as Jesus loves, been more needed than today, as we live our hectic lives, sometimes so busy we struggle to find time to pray about God’s plan for our lives. Yet God wants us to know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that we are loved, unconditionally, warts and all. God’s love can take us and transform us into people worthy to be called God’s children. God wants His love for us to give us the courage and wisdom to help us get our lives in order, so we don’t run out of time to pray with Him. He misses us so much when we get that busy.
A friend told me of a time when she was at a retreat but was uncomfortable being with people she didn’t know. As she began the first day she felt like she was going to cry she wanted to leave and return to her familiar world. She paused and prayed and asked God what she should do. God spoke to her soul and directed her out of herself and to serve and love others. In no time she met new friends and felt comfortable.
Do you know how much God loves you? To begin to grasp God’s infinite love look up I Corinthians 13:4-8, and reread each verse as if God were talking to you. So, the first verse would read, “God’s love for you is patient. God’s love for you is kind.” Then write some notes as you think about each phrase and see what God’s love can teach you about love. What do you learn about yourself? Do you need to learn to love yourself more? Do you need to be more forgiving of yourself?
When we know we are loved, and have the love of God in our hearts, we become powerful tools for God to spread love to others who are searching for the love they need. There is a lonely person next to you who needs comfort. See the hassled sales lady who needs to be told she is great. What about the member of the church who is overworked and under-appreciated? Maybe you know a sick friend you can visit in the hospital. Is there injustice in your community that you can speak out against, and change for the better of others? As Jesus loves us, let us love one another. (To find out more about Al Earley or read previous articles see, www.lagrangepres.org).