As I have loved you...

“I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35

The last couple weeks we have talked about how Jesus connects our love and unity with our witness, in John 13:34-35 and John 17:20-23. Briefly, if we are truly united in the love of God, the world will see:

Seeing these three things will demonstrate that the Christian faith is both true and life-changing.

But we should emphasize that the love Jesus speaks about is a love that follows his example – and not a love that follows our society’s example, which is what we often think of as love. So how did Jesus love his disciples? It wasn’t a sentimental love, or a selfish love that sought is own satisfaction or fulfilment, but rather a love that sought first the good of others, that laid down his rights, preferences and comfort. Here are three elements to consider :

1) He came to us

“And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us.” - John 1:14

The incarnation was an act of immense love. Jesus left behind his status as God, his comfortable position next to God, and we could even say, his home in heaven. He made himself vulnerable to a difficult life and a difficult death. For love, he came to live where we were, like an immigrant going to live in a foreign country.

2) He gave his life for us

“This is my command: Love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this: to lay down his life for his friends.” – John 15 : 12-13

This point may seem obvious, but Jesus juxtaposes it with the commandment to love as he has loved, and that should give us pause. In our day, sacrifice is something we try to avoid at all costs.

And sacrificing one’s life is one thing, but I wonder if dying for love might not be easier than living for love. Would one choice for all time not be simpler than confronting my selfish human nature every moment for the rest of my life?

3) He “risked” loving first.

“We love because he first loved us.”– 1 John 4:19

The word “risk” implies an unknown future, which was not the case for Jesus. His future was determined, and he knew what was coming from the beginning. It was part of God’s plan. He loved us, even knowing what it would cost.

As for us, when we love first, it is a true risk. We don’t know how people will react. Will they return our love? Will they reject us? Will they just be apathetic? Can we run that risk?

Yes. Because like Jesus, our future is already written (Psalm 139:16) ; even if we don’t know it yet, God knows and he is in control. As he had for Jesus, God has a plan for our lives as well. We can trust him enough to say, “even if it goes badly, even if I suffer, I know God is in control and that his plan will turn all things for good.”

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