“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. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
John 13:34–35 ESV
I never thought about it much when I read those verses before, but I passingly thought Jesus was commanding us to love fellow believers. In my heart, I believe the Holy Spirit was speaking a different perspective, the truth. Truth is, we are to love all people (not just fellow believers), so that all will know we are His disciples.
This just makes sense in every area of life because God has loved all of us, even the unlovable. I love how the Gospel Transformation Bible notes puts it:
"The greatness of Jesus’ love for us is now the motivation for our loving others. If we love Jesus truly and deeply, we will love what and whom he loves—the unlovely, the oppressed, those very different from us, and those whose actions have damaged us."
Take for example our local church body: how will the people who are interested in learning about Christianity, who visit our church for the first time, know that we love and follow Jesus? It’s not by loving fellow believers only. For this is one of the reasons new people don’t come back to church. They see the people of the church huddled up and enjoying one another, and rather than desiring to know Christ, they feel like outsiders, unimportant, and ignored. But if we obey Jesus and love all people, the new person will not only see how we enjoy our fellow believers, but will feel accepted, important, and noticed. Why? Because the people of the church will go out of their way to say hi, to introduce themselves, to begin a relationship…basically, the church, you and me, will display love, just like Christ has loved the stranger, just like Christ has loved us.
Obeying this commandment is awkward, risky, and out of our comfort zone. It’s difficult and takes intentionality. But what good and worthy thing doesn't?
Are you ready to obey the commandment of Jesus, our loving Savior?