In John 13:34-35, on the very last night Jesus was on the Earth; he said this to his closest followers:
“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.”
This isn’t a very long passage; but it’s quite possibly the crux of the New Testament. The particular word that Christ used for “new” in this scripture means fresh, unused; something that’s going to bring about impact and a new paradigm.
So what exactly is “new” about this commandment?
The theme of loving one another isn’t new; Leviticus 19:18 tells us to love our neighbor as ourselves. The difference here is in the HOW – the measurement of love. Before we were to love one another the way that WE would want to be loved.
The new part of this commandment is that Jesus changes the paradigm, setting the bar all the way at the top. The new measurement of love is no longer tied to OUR capacity to love, but to HIS.
So what does that look like?
Let’s be clear: loving one another isn’t easy – nor is it meant to be. This isn’t always something that comes naturally to us. Make no mistake, though – living out God’s commandments in community with others is the catalyst that activates our faith. In fact, we can’t grow to spiritual maturity without it.
According to Jesus, loving one another as He loves us means a choice to willfully disregard position, status and other people’s perceptions. It means laying aside ego and security issues and giving to people what they don’t deserve to meet their greatest need even when their hearts may not be open to it.
This kind of love is meant to identify us as followers of Jesus. The degree to which we love others with radical, self-sacrificing love is the mark of a true disciple, and what the new commandment is all about.
So what would life look like if we took Jesus seriously, and responded to His command to love others as He loves us by putting it into practice daily?
The implications of this are absolutely overwhelming, absolutely exciting and desperately needed.
This week we begin a new series called Love One Another. Through it, I pray that you’ll learn how to apply this “new” commandment in radical ways that bring about supernatural community. Doing so requires many of us to move beyond our comfort zone – but I promise you this: no matter how much you are hurting, there is someone out there who is hurting more. When you reach out to them, by way of overflow, you will experience love like never before.
Keep Pressin’ Ahead,
Teaching Pastor, Living on the Edge
Founder & Teaching Pastor, Living on the Edge
Chip Ingram is the CEO and teaching pastor of Living on the Edge, an international teaching and discipleship ministry. A pastor for over thirty years, Chip has a unique ability to communicate truth and challenge people to live out their faith. He is the author of many books, including The Real God, Culture Shock and The Real Heaven. Chip and his wife, Theresa, have four grown children and twelve grandchildren and live in California.More Articles by Chip