"By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."
-- John 13:35, ESV
Nothing is more glorious than love. Of it poems are written, songs are sung, movies are made, relationships are formed, and Scripture speaks. Would it be that the latter could govern all of the former, but modern culture seldom consults God's word concerning the definition and parameters of love.
Love is best shown by a glad obedience to the commandments of God. There is an obedience revealed in the Gospels that is ugly, prideful, and practiced by the Pharisees. It is a keeping of rules and regulations in order to curry favor with God and set oneself up as superior to others. This certainly does not honor God nor bless anyone, except for the person plagued by such pride. It is never glad, and it is never love.
There is a reasonably good obedience that is still not very glad. We learn it very early when we are made to get up early and go to school, or clean up our room, or eat our green vegetables. We experience it by working jobs we don't like or maintaining relationships we don't enjoy. Such obedience may honor God and bless others in some ways, but it is not glad, and it is not really love.
Then there is the glad obedience of love. It is a keeping of commandments that is not mere duty, but absolute devotion. It is not merely feeling good, but doing good. It does even the hard things because of a soft heart. Such love and such obedience was both demonstrated and commanded by the Lord Jesus Christ.
And this love became His final and most important commandment to His disciples. He could have commanded them to go out and get advanced degrees in systematic theology. He could have commanded them to focus all of their energies on those outside the church. But instead, He gave them a commandment that would encapsulate sound doctrine and offer the greatest testimony of all to those still outside of the kingdom of God. He told us to "love one another," and He made it "new," by giving us His supreme example to follow, "as I have loved you."
This is a commandment for Christians, and the Christian church. Such love gathers us together on Sundays, and prevents us from gossip on Mondays. Such love makes us give to the common causes of ministry and mission, and prevents us from the greed and laziness that burdens others. Such love is expressed in words and proven in deeds, so that not a single member of Christ's church should ever need or feel neglected. It gladly obeys all of the commandments of God, all of the "one another" commandments, beginning with the glory of love.
Jesus came to reveal God to the world, so that God would be glorified, exalted, believed, and known. Jesus preached the gospel and performed miracles so that God would be glorified, exalted, believed, and known. Jesus went to His death on the cross and awaited His resurrection on the third day so that God would be glorified, exalted, believed, and known. In this relentless pursuit of the glory of God, the man Christ Jesus showed His love for God.
And, it showed His love for God's people. Jesus calls His true disciples here "little children," a broader translation of which could read "My personal, dear, beloved children." Jesus came to us because "God so loved the world."
Now, let us love the Lord with all we are and have. And let us love one another, as He has commanded, for His glory and our good. It is the best way to enjoy and spread the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Chuck DeVane is the pastor of Lake Hamilton Baptist Church in Hot Springs. Call him at 501-525-8339 or email [email protected]