John 15:12-14 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to
lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.
You are my friends if you do what I command
I know, I know, I have said it time and time again. God’s love is unconditional. It is not what we do, but what He does. And even though at first glance this verse would seem to contradict that, I believe it doesn’t. Here’s why: It is not that he would not be our friends, it’s that doing what he commanded is evidence of our friendship with Him.
So what is Jesus commanding us to do?
I included verse 12 in our reading for today to make it clear what command Jesus was talking about when He said, “You are my friends if you do what I command.” Verse 12 says, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” He is telling the disciples (ahead of time) that they will see evidence of His love for them as he dies on the cross, and here He is calling them, and us, to “Love each other as I have loved you.”
A tall order
Jesus is calling us to love others as He has loved us. Yeah, but wait – he died for us. That’s a pretty tall order. I’m pretty sure most of us will not be called to lay down our life for someone else, but perhaps it also includes putting other people’s needs before our own. It reminds me of the JOY method my boys learned at their school in St. Louis. The Joy method is putting Jesus first, Others second, Yourself third.
Loving others is a response to knowing Jesus
In Bible study on Tuesday night, in preparation for studying Philippians, we went to Acts to learn about how the people of the church at Philippi came to know the Lord. We heard about Lydia and her family. How the Lord opened her heart and she believed. As soon as she believed she was moved to be baptized and then showed the others that she loved and cared about them by inviting them into her home. We also learned about the jail guard who was present when God opened the jail doors and loosened the chains around Paul and Silas. He thought they had escaped, but when he saw they were still there, he asked, “What must I do to be saved?”. They told him Believe in Jesus. He and his whole household believed. Then he cleaned their wounds (they had been beaten badly before ending up in jail), and as soon as they were cleaned up, the guard and his family were baptized. Then he gave them something to eat. But then guess what…Paul and Silas returned to their cell.
Loving Others isn’t always easy
Sometimes people make it really hard for us to love others and be their friend. They treat us poorly or worse yet treat someone we love poorly. It makes us angry and blocks our relationship with them and Jesus. Only when we focus on what is most important, our relationship with God, can we treat others with love, even when they don’t deserve it. Let’s be honest, most of the time, I don’t deserve other people’s love. I can be cranky, unkind and self-centered. But others love me despite my faults. I pray I too can do that with others.
Is loving others easy for you?