Friday, November 20, 2009

One another- Part Two

So, if you tuned in yesterday we were looking at the words of Jesus in John chapter 13, especially verse 34: "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another."

The question is, what makes it new? Isn’t “love one another” a lot like “love your neighbor as yourself”? It is—until Jesus completes His thought with the words “As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”

Hmmm. Okay, this is new then. Up to this point, what happens if you got into a situation where loving your neighbor somehow conflicted with loving yourself? That’s a bit gray and leaves you a sizable way out. But Jesus just clarified that His followers are to love one another the way He loves them. That’s actually “love your neighbor more than you love yourself. This is sacrificial love, and it takes things to a whole new level.

I think now is good time to call attention back to our word that inspired the naming of Maundy Thursday: the Latin word mandātum is where we derive our modern word, “mandate.” This was not “a new suggestion,” or “a new recommendation” from God’s Son. It’s a command; a mandate. “As my followers, you WILL love each other as I have loved you.”

So, why is this “one another” so important that it’s a command? Jesus tells us in the very next verse:

"By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." -John 13:35

Imagine being given tickets to see your favorite college team play. At home. In a decisive game. What colors are you going to wear to the game? Why?

Whether you graduated from that school or not isn't really the point. You proudly wear your team's colors because they are an identifying mark that helps tie you to the them. You might even say, “by this all men will know that you are an Aggie/Longhorn/Red Raider…” (Hey, when you write the post, you can choose the teams- now stay focused.)

In the midst of the tumultuous 1960’s, scholar Francis Schaeffer wrote an essay entitled, The Mark of a Christian. I’d like to share an excerpt in which he draws a comparison between the modern church and the church in the first century:

In the church at Antioch the Christians included Jews and Gentiles and reached all the way from Herod's foster brother to the slaves; and the naturally proud Greek Christian Gentiles of Macedonia showed a practical concern for the material needs of the Christian Jews in Jerusalem. The observable and practical love among true Christians that the world has a right to be able to observe in our day certainly should cut without reservation across such lines as language, nationalities, national frontiers, younger and older, colors of skin, levels of education and economics, accent, line of birth, the class system in any particular locality, dress, short or long hair among whites and African and non-African hairdos among blacks, the wearing of shoes and the non-wearing of shoes, cultural differentiations and the more traditional and less traditional forms of worship.

If the world does not see this, it will not believe that Christ was sent by the Father. People will not believe only on the basis of the proper answers. The two should not be placed in antithesis. The world must have the proper answers to their honest questions, but at the same time, there must be a oneness in love between all true Christians. This is what is needed if men are to know that Jesus was sent by the Father and that Christianity is true.” -Francis Schaeffer, The Mark of a Christian

You see, it’s a command because Christians don’t have any other uniform or identifying mark. There is no bracelet or t-shirt we can wear, no bumper sticker or fish we can put on our car, no sign that we can place in our front yard or radio station we can listen to at work that will clearly demonstrate that someone is a true Christ follower. There is only one new standard:

"By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

Alright, don’t check out on me yet, because now we’re coming to the critical point where we have to ask, “HOW can we do this?” To love one another like Jesus loves us: completely; unselfishly; sacrificially; perfectly. Forget hard; this doesn’t even seem possible. And the short answer is- it’s not.

I don’t have what it takes; you don’t have what it takes. We can’t do it.

As a matter of fact, author and speaker Louie Giglio points out, “There’s only one guy who’s ever been able to pull it off. And He was so good at it they named it after Him (“Waking up to the Whole Gospel,” Louie Giglio).”

So what do we do- give up? Of course not! Jesus wouldn’t give us a command that was impossible to keep. “But you just said it wasn’t possible…”

Well, I said it wasn’t possible for us.

The One who lived a perfect Christian life died on a cross, rose again on the third day and is still alive. And His resurrection ushered in a new way.

God knew we couldn’t live the Christian life perfectly. So His new covenant allows Christ to do more than just work with us- He works in us. And He does so through the Holy Spirit:

"If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. -John 14:15-17

He has to live in us. And that begins with surrendering to Christ as Savior.

If you’ve made that declaration already, but you don’t feel like the “love one another” thing has been very successful, could it be that you are trying to do it without Him? Surrender is an everyday decision for a Christ follower. This is the only way we can hope to love one another the way Jesus loves us.

It’s all about surrender.

In Him we live,


Thursday, November 19, 2009

One another- Part One

one: being or amounting to a single unit or individual or entire thing, item, or object rather than two or more; a single: one woman; one nation; one donut.

another: being one more or more of the same; further; additional: another donut.

one another: (pronoun) Used to indicate a reciprocal (or mutual) relationship or actions among the members of the set referred to by the antecedent… the teachers help one another. (Accessed from: on 10/10/09)

Putting those 2 words together makes all the difference. We can see this difference lived out in kids as they learn to play together. Sometimes children first exhibit something called “parallel play,” in which ONE child will play next to ANOTHER child, but not really interact with them. Once interaction begins, they discover that in order to play together, there has to be some give-and-take between them—which is not always easy! But when it happens, these beautiful itty-bitties get a taste of “one another.”

It’s clear that God wants all His kiddos to understand “one another” as well; there are over 50 times in the New Testament where either that phrase or its close neighbor “each other” is used to teach us something about community. For the next couple of posts, I'd like us to look at some of the most significant “one another’s” and let them teach us—the big kids—more about how to play together, not just next to each other.

It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love. The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples' feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. (-John 13:1-5)

Foot washing was a common practice of this time. People wore sandals and walked dusty, dirty roads every day, so by the time of the evening meal, their feet were really messy. Since it was also common practice to recline at low tables while eating, the washing of feet before a meal just made sense.

You can imagine how unpleasant this task would have been. It’s no wonder the servant of the lowest stature was typically saddled with this responsibility. Some of the other gospels (Luke 22:24) share that the 12 had been “discussing” before the meal who among them was the greatest. Could it be that they were also trying to decide who was the lowest among them, and therefore the one who should take this indignity?

There’s no doubt that Jesus’ action created one king-sized moment of awkward silence.

Even after Peter breaks the silence, an awkward tension remains. Jesus proceeds to correct Peter, and share that they should do this for each other. He then says bluntly that one of them is going to betray Him. In the aftermath of this shock, Judas leaves without apparently raising any questions from the remaining disciples.

At this point, the tension lifts. But Jesus uses this moment to deliver a mammoth lesson, perhaps THE mammoth lesson on what it truly means to be His follower:

"My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come. "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. (-John 13:33-34)

Love One Another.

This is the “one another” that will serve to direct all the others that are found in the New Testament. And if we unpack these verses a bit, we’ll see why it’s so important.

Working backwards from the resurrection, it seems that the last supper would have happened on what we call Thursday. In many traditional circles, the Thursday before Easter is referred to as Maundy Thursday. If you’ve ever wondered where it got its name, you’re answer can be found in the passage of Scripture we just read.

From Middle English maunde, from Old French mande, the word stems from the Latin mandātum (commandment).

Mandatum is the first word in the Latin translation of John 13:34, completed by the Latin word novum (new):

"A new command I give you: Love one another.”

A new command? What makes it new?

We'll save that for tomorrow. Hope to "see" you then!

In Him we live,