John 15:12 – This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
This is my commandment
In John 15:12, Jesus is talking with His followers, trying to give them the low-down just before He is going to go to the cross. They don’t know what’s coming, but He does. To be commanding means to draw attention or priority. Here Jesus is trying to put His ministry in a nutshell, His elevator pitch of sorts. This is what I want you to do. This is what I want your priority to be. This is what I want you to give your attention to doing. Jesus said, of all of the things He could have commanded, “Love one another as I have loved you.”
Love one another
Easier said than done, right. We all have known our share of unlovable people, haven’t we? I remember way back when I was teaching (for a whole year and a half), there was a little boy named Howard. Howard was super smart. You couldn’t get anything past Howard. He didn’t do his homework much, but he probably already knew everything I was teaching at the time anyway. Needless to say a bored, creative, young man was bound to push the boundaries a little. I remember one day he had been less than nice to a younger student who was annoying him. He said to me, “You can’t make me like him.” I said I didn’t care if he liked him. I told him the Bible didn’t say we had to like people, it said we have to love them. That means treating them kindly and not threatening to beat them up. He, in his wisdom, thought that made a lot of sense. He was thrilled, “So I don’t have to like him? ” he asked. “Nope, but you do have to love him.” I said. “I can do that.” He said and ran outside to play.
Love vs. Like
Are we always likable? No, I don’t think we are, but Jesus loved us anyway. He loved us so much that He laid down His life for us, so we could spend eternity with Him in heaven. So how do we love the unlovable. Sometimes, for me, it seems like loving the unlovable is best done by doing the opposite of what I want to do. I see someone I don’t particularly care for, or am uncomfortable around and my tendency would be to look the other way or walk away. God would call us to reach out to that person with care and concern. How about the person who has stabbed you in the back. It may be a bit much to think you’re going to go out of your way to find ways to love them, but perhaps even just forgiving them and being cordial in their presence. Not easy, but it is what we’re called to do. We don’t have to like them, but we’re called to love them. How about at church? Are there people who get under your skin? Maybe they said something that was off-color or unkind, and you don’t want anything to do with them. Even if you can’t bring yourself to go up to them, you might add them to your prayer list, and maybe even pray that one day you would be able to show them love.
WARNING – if you pray something like that, you’ll probably be given an opportunity to see if you can love them. EEEK!
That you love one another as I have loved you
Jesus calls us to love one another as he has loved us, unconditionally. He doesn’t love us more when we’re good and less when we’re bad. He just loves us. And he loves us so much He died for us. The verse that follows the verse above says how we are to love one another. “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” We have to put others needs ahead of our own, like Jesus put our needs above His own desires. This is His command for us. This is what He wants us to pay attention to in our lives. This is what we need to make a priority in our lives. Love one another.