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,


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