Sunday, May 02, 2010

Unifying love

TODAY’S SPECIAL: John 13:21-35

TO CHEW ON: “‘A new commandment I give to you that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.’” John 13:34-35

The issue of unity is love,” begins a sidebar article in my Bible commenting on this passage. We can learn a lot about this unifying love by unpacking these two verses.

1. “A new commandment…”
“Wait a minute,” I hear you say, “isn’t love a feeling? How can I produce this on command?”
This love goes beyond feeling. In fact, I’d venture to say it’s by obeying the command to love, by acting out our kindness, consideration, self-control etc. before we ever feel like it that the feelings will be manufactured.

2. “that you love…”
The Greek word used for love here is agape – the same love Paul writes about in 1 Corinthians 13.

3. “…as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”
Just before giving this teaching, Jesus demonstrated this very love to His betrayer, Judas. Note Jesus' interaction with him (13:18-28). He pointed out Judas' coming betrayal so without guile even the disciples who were present and witnessed the conversation didn’t pick up on the significance (13:28-30). Of course Jesus’ death for the very people who killed Him is love beyond comprehension. This is the kind of love – a love that goes beyond pretty sentiment to actual sacrifice – that we are to demonstrate for each other.

4. “By this all will know…”
It is this kind of love that should distinguish Christians to the world – as it did in Acts.

5. “…that you are My disciples.”
Disciple (mathetes [translated disciples, pupils]. Jesus is our model or teacher in this. We are to learn and take instruction from, copy Him. This quality of love in our lives will prove that we are His followers.

The article I began quoting above, ends, “If we are to love in this way, we will have to take seriously that in 14:14 we are told we must ask for it and in verse 16 we learn that the Holy Spirit must give us the power. In a world of quid pro quo bartered manipulation and facsimiles of love based on symbiosis, unity is not possible without Christ’s commandment and our willingness to receive His love for others." Lloyd John Ogilvie, New Spirit Filled Life Bible p. 1468.

PRAYER: If anyone needs Your empowering to love this way, Lord, I do. Please work in me the will to release grudges, forget wrongs, forgo revenge, overlook offenses and on and on… I want to be a disciple image of You. Amen.

One of the times our unifying love gets displayed – and tested – is when we meet in church on Sundays. Carolyn Arends’ song “Any Given Sunday” does a good job of expressing our unity and diversity. (Listen to a snippet of it here on iTunes)

Do your 8-12-year-olds have daily devotions? Point them to Bible Drive-Thru.

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