John 13:31-35 (ESV)
31 When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. 32 If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once. 33 Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me, and just as I said to the Jews, so now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’ 34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
One of my favorite quotes about the church comes from Annie Dillard, “Nothing could more surely convince me of God’s unending mercy than the continued existence on earth of the church.” Sometimes, maybe too often, we can see how far we have fallen in keeping this commandment. It is easy for us to call to mind times when we or others close to us have been hurt, turned aside, or neglected by the body of believers we have been a part of. Each of our individual lives are packed full of responsibilities and requirements and desires that sometimes, maybe too often, keep us from turning our focus to those around us. We can easily think that someone else in the body is caring for those that need it. The reality is that we all need it. We are all constantly in need because we are broken. There will never come a point in our natural lives that we will be whole. Our Truth is that we are whole in Christ alone and at the consummation of time we will see this Truth but now we are all broken and all need each other in that brokenness.
This process, or maybe better said, lifestyle of love for others only springs from a place where we know and trust the Truth that we are loved by God. It is only in that place that we can move away from our inward turned heart and see those around us. How do people know that we are Jesus disciples? Love. This love is not soft. It comes with permission to push into each other’s lives, to seek the good of those around us, to ask the hard questions and bring Truth when the persons true seems to be elevating itself. It is a love that recognizes our brokenness and runs to be the first to repent. It is always looking at our own selves through the eyes of God’s holiness and grace. It is a love that can rebuke and rescue at the same time. It is a love that sacrifices all with no worry of the outcome. Let us love one another deeply. Let us repent and forgive freely. Let us carry each other daily.
Father, your mercy and grace is what keeps us together. It is only through the power of the resurrection that we are able to love one another. Forgive us when we fail. Forgive us when ourselves, our agendas, our desires, our fears keep us from running toward each other. Jesus, give us power to hold together so we can proclaim your love to a world that needs it so desperately and to ourselves because we are right there as well. We need your love. Amen
Find a small group of believers within your local church body or in your area to commit, empowered by the Spirit, to know, love and understand each other. Push into each other’s lives.