Here’s a question: how many commands are there in the Great Commandment? a) One; b) Two; c)? Three. If you answered two, good! You remembered the ones to love God and neighbor. These were given through Moses in the old covenant and endorsed by Jesus (Matt 22:37-39). But what about the new command of Jesus? “What’s that?“ you ask. Precisely! It’s been forgotten and the consequences have been grave. .
At the last supper, Jesus said “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35 NASB) So we would get it, he repeats “love one another” three times then twice more in John 15:12 and 17. But we missed it anyway.
“Oh,” you say, “Isn’t that covered in the one about loving our neighbor?” Before addressing that, let me tell you a story.
Is My Brother My Neighbor? A few years back at a men’s breakfast, when time came to pay, I found the restaurant only took cash. It was embarrassing. I only had credit cards, but the guy next to me reached over, took my check. “It’s OK, I’ve got it.” What a relief! Someone said, “Now that’s a good neighbor.” “No,” I replied, “That’s a good brother.”
I speak now as a husband and father. Would it make sense for me to love my neighbor’s family the way I am supposed to love my own? If I did,,our family would be out of divine order AND I would have big headache on the home front.
Now, here are four reasons why His command applies to us, His church, not to our neighbor.
1. Whom we are to love? Jesus explains in His Good Samaritan story that our neighbor is the stranger we meet along the way. We are to love our church members, the family of God.
2. How we are to love? Moses’ command tells us to treat neighbors as we wish to be treated. Christ tells us to love our fellow members as he did, sacrificially.
3. New vs. old. Jesus’ command was no rehashing of the old command to love our neighbor. Rather, it’s new: His new order for a new order
4. It has a promise and a prediction: Obey me in this and you will have great results in your witness to the world. Mutual love is the evidence, the only evidence, he gave that would authenticate our mission. The first church obeyed Him. They were in one accord and they turned their world right side up for Christ.
How can we preach a gospel of love if we don’t model that love among ourselves? “Look at us,” we could tell the world. “This is how God intended people to treat each other. This proves God’s kingdom has come and His will is being done on earth as in heaven.” According to Christ more than our teachings, fervent worship, preaching, great programs and outreach campaigns, it’s our genuine care for each other that will get results. If we don’t demonstrate His love inside, it will mean little to those outside and if we truly love our neighbor we will love each other.
Lord, hear our prayer. Forgive us for neglecting your command. We depend on Your Spirit to fill us with the power and wisdom to recover what we have lost, to really show our love for you by the love we have for each other.
Please join the conversation. Did you answer one, two or three? Are there other places in scripture where Jesus said, do this and the world will believe? I haven’t found them. What are some practical ways we can begin to do this in our own Christian families?