“Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.” (John 13:34-35)
I was always taught to pay attention to things that are repeated in scripture because they are important. If we just pass over something because it seems 'rote' or like we have heard it a million times, we may miss one of the most vital lessons we need to learn in our lives. I can drive by the 'speed checked by radar' time and time again, all the while ignoring it until one day I see those bright red and blue lights flashing for me to pull over to the side of the road. The sign was always there, but I didn't heed it and therefore, the consequences are deserved. If we heed the warnings in scripture, we do well. If we obey the commands in scripture, we do even better.
Love one another - seems easy, doesn't it? Ever try doing it? You know exactly how hard it is to love 'some people', don't you? Those ones that are on your last nerve about all the time are not all that easy to embrace in love! There isn't a whole lot of wiggle room in this command - anymore than there may have been wiggle room in exceeding the speed limit when it was clearly posted and I was even given a warning that my speed would be monitored by some invisible radar somewhere. (Lest you think I have been busted for speeding - I am just using this as an illustration) Love one another is an 'absolute' - there is no opportunity to do otherwise and think we won't bear the consequences of not having fulfilled the command.
In the same way I loved you - that is Jesus talking about how we are to love one another - as he loved us. Before we were godly creatures, he loved us. Before we got our act together, he loved us. Before we figured out we weren't all that loveable ourselves, he loved us. Without compromise, no strings attached. He loves graciously - not holding grudges when we promised something and didn't fulfill the promise. He loves limitlessly - not ever considering how much it will cost or where to draw the line with us. He loves constantly - not just when the urge hits him or he 'feels like it'. Herein is the example we are given - love as he loves us.
When they see the love - that makes it quite clear - love is an action, not just a feeling. I think we live in a crazy, mixed up world that sometimes gets this whole 'love' thing all out of perspective. It seems like love is equated to what we get, not what we give. It is based on how we 'feel' toward another and that is totally whack. Love is an action - taken without regard to how we feel at the moment. We may feel wronged - but love dictates we forgive and restore. We may feel less than appreciated - but love requires us to be kind and gracious in our response to others.
This thing called 'love' is visible - it isn't hidden - it is 'out there'. It goes the extra mile, even when we don't feel like it. It creates room for others, even when it seems like the world we live in would be a whole lot simpler if it was just us in it. Love is without reservation - because God didn't reserve his love for just a few - it is and has always been available for 'whosoever' would believe and call upon his name. Love like Christ? Not an easy task, but we don't do it alone. The Spirit of God lives within us, empowering us to obey this command, my friends. Just sayin!