A few weeks back Hailey and I spent a few days at a Japanese camp-site in the mountains (and when I say “camp-site” I mean we all had four person rooms, futons, and a heater) with the sole purpose of loving one another as Christ loved us.
This camp was open to not only the believers in the House Church but also the people whom the community has been ministering to.
I’ve been on a pretty big kick lately on the verse Jesus speaks in John 13:34-35.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Now I know. You’ve heard this one before. Probably a thousand times. What I’m going to do is ask you to re-read the verse above and try to understand the gravity of that command as well as of the promise given alongside it.
Ok, finished? Now lets break that verse down a bit.
“Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”
Seems sweet doesn’t it? Something to put on a coffee mug or hang on a plaque with a picture of pastel flowers over the brick fireplace of your 1990’s home.
But stop and think of what Jesus is asking us to do in that moment. What had just happened to Jesus not even two month’s time before he gave this command?
He was ruthlessly betrayed by the people who had called themselves His followers. Unduly and viciously murdered by those who He had come down to save.
And then, after all of that, hanging on a tree He asked His Father to forgive those very same people for what they had done to Him, then continued to sacrifice Himself in order that they may be saved.
That is how Christ loved you.
And He asks us to love our brothers and sisters in the same way.
But what about when someone calls you a hypocrite? What about when someone lies to you and betrays your trust? What about when someone humiliates you in front of others or spreads rumors about your wife or your husband? What about when someone hurts someone in your family?
Well, you forgive them. And you love them. Because that is what Jesus did for you. When you did not deserve it, Christ loved you. So when they don’t deserve it, we get to share in Christ’s love for us by giving it to others.
“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Again, I think this is a verse that can be easily looked over. But this is what Jesus explains will reveal our identities as followers of Christ just before He ascends into heaven. This is our mark. This is how the world will see us as different.
The way we love one another.
We need to strive to be a people that others see and think, “Wow. Those people love each other so well. Something is different about them.”
The few days we were at the campsite we played games together with the families there. We worshipped together. We sat around, ate meals, and talked together. But most of all, we loved one another. It was beautiful.
The last day there, we allotted some time to do something a bit different.
We set up a few chairs, warmed some water and put it in small tubs, grabbed some towels, and then we each took turns washing each others feet and having our own feet washed as well.
It was a decision. It was an oath.
We would serve each other.
We would humble ourselves and forgive each other regardless of if the other person deserved it or not.
We would love one another as Christ has loved us.
And those families who came who do not yet know the love of Christ, they got to see the love we had for each other.
Ministry is not only something that you do outside of the body of Christ. In fact, one of the greatest ministries you can do is by loving one another as Christ loved you. The world is drawn to that kind of love. But they need to see it first.
I think everyone who reads this will have at least something they do to love their fellow believers better. Maybe it’s forgiveness. Maybe it’s service. Maybe it’s something else.
Be the church.
Be that light of the world.
Love one another as Christ has loved you.