Jesus says in John 13:35: “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Why is it important that we learn to love like Jesus? The obvious reason is that the Lord commands it. But this text offers us two vital reasons why…
Fulfill our mission. Learning to love like Jesus helps us to fulfill our mission of reaching others with the gospel of Jesus Christ.Verse 35…“All men will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.” The quality of fellowship in the body of Christ determines the effectiveness of our witness. Loving others well will show the world that we indeed are Christians – by our love. Here is what Francis Schaeffer referred to as “the final apologetic.” The love of Christians for one another should be the distinguishing mark by which the world recognizes us as followers of Jesus. Such mutual interest in and concern for each other will arrest the attention of unbelievers. This recognition from the world will both honor the name of Jesus Christ and incline people to listen to our message.
We cannot expect the world to believe that the Father sent the Son, that Jesus’ claims are true, and that Christianity is true, unless the world sees some reality of Christ’s love in us.
The second reason we are called to love like Jesus is to preserve our unity… Learning to love like Jesus serves as the antidote to every vice that disrupts our fellowship and life together. The original disciples quarreled repeated about which of them was the greatest. The devil fosters a spirit of envy, rivalry, distrust and self-reliance.
How important it is for all of us to recognize that the seeds of the failure to love Christ and others lie deeply embedded in our own hearts. Dark forces are afoot that would annihilate our love for Christ and others. Left to our natural selves we either provoke those to whom we feel superior or envy those to whom we feel inferior. We must repent of all the ways that we have failed to show the love of Christ.
One of the primary ways that the Evil One deceives us is by causing us to focus on that which is mysterious rather than focusing on our duty. For example in John 13, Peter is more concerned about where Jesus is going rather than taking stock regarding whether he is loving others like Jesus loved him.
Would you pray that your church would become more of a cruciform community that is marked primarily by how it loves rather than just a Christian community that is simply marked by what it does.
This new commandment is the whole gospel story. Love is cruciform, downward for us and outward through us. In the cross, divine love triumphs over divine wrath by divine self-sacrifice.
This is why the great hymn writer Isaac Watts beautifully wrote:
“Love so amazing so divine, demands my life, my soul, my all.”