The Commandment to Love
Article written by the dearly loved Ps Peter
The Commandment to Love
Christians do not really have the option not to walk in love as it is a commandment that Jesus Christ left with us through His disciples. Jesus said that as He had loved us, we are to love one another (John 13:34). We all know that Jesus gave His life for us on the cross, so we are supposed to be willing to die for one another in the Lord. Although there are testimonies that we hear once in a while of Christians giving their lives to another, such are so rare that one is regarded as heroic in such acts. It is suppose to be the 『norm’ in Christianity! Those who have been in Christ long enough have probably their share of stories of how Christians behave like non-Christians to one another and to others. What has happened to Christianity? Why is love so lacking in many churches? There could be many reasons but perhaps we can highlight some of them:
1. We have replaced the greatest commandment to love with other priorities
In many churches today the most important thing seems to be learning how to be a success. This is the driving goal of the leadership and also instilled upon the followers. While we recognize the need of being successful both in the spiritual and the natural realm, it must never replace the greatest commandment to love one another. We need to restore the commandment of Jesus to love into its rightful place at the centre of every church and every Christian heart. We were born out from the love of God the Father, through the love of His son into a loving relationship with God and with all around us. Let us never forget that in all of religiosity and church services, the greatest commandment is and will always remain that which tells us to love God and to love our neighbour as ourselves (Matthew 22:37-39). This is more important than our programs and activities. If we succeed at everything else but fail in love, we fail for eternity. Love is everything in heaven and all of the spiritual realms of God. God is love (1 John 4:16).
2. We need more leaders of love to produce disciples of love
The problem with love is that it cannot just be taught but must be caught by example and experience. If God did not sent His only begotten Son to us, we would not have known that God loved us that much (John 3:16). If Jesus had not laid down His life for us while we were yet sinners, we would not have known the greatness of His love for us (Romans 5:6-7). Love must be demonstrated and not just intended and spoken (Romans 5:8). Jesus intended that His disciples would continue the lasting demonstration of God’s love for others through their lives by giving us His new commandment to love (John 13:34). In fact our Lord Jesus said that it is the ONLY means and method by which everyone will know that we are His disciples (John 13:35 – By THIS shall all man know that we are His disciples!). Sadly, through two thousand years we have replaced the sign of discipleship with our other man-made creeds and doctrines. We need to return again to the original sign and method by which all will know that we are truly the disciples of Jesus – that we love like He loved. No other disciple understood the love of Jesus closely and affectionately as the apostle John. John wrote in His epistle that just as Jesus laid His life for us, we need to also be willing to lay down our lives for the brethren (1 John 3:16). Yes, beloved ones, those who received John 3:16 must continue on and practice 1st John 3:16. The world does not need more leaders, rather the world need more leaders full of the same love that Jesus had. The church does not need more apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, rather it needs more fivefold ministers filled with the same love that Jesus had. The church and the sheep will never learn to love unless the leaders themselves learn to love. We need more leaders of love rather than leaders of doctrine or faith or power. For all the doctrine, faith and power will come to nothing without the love of God (1 Corinthians 13:1-2, 13).
3. We need to see people through the eyes of God’s love
The only thing preventing us loving people is that we have set in our minds those that we find hard to love an image in our mind of their ugliness of character or soul. Such images could have come from cultural prejudices, family prejudices, bad experiences or warnings from others who also have bad experiences and ugly images of such people. Those in our human mind we see some people as good, some as bad and some as ugly. We naturally find it hard to love such people because we have no relationship with such people and seek to keep it that way. Although it would be true that we cannot always work together or fellowship closely with some people because of differences of methods, beliefs or character, it should not prevent us from feeling God’s love towards them in our hearts. We must always have the ability of God to be loving to all no matter who they are. True agape love is not based on who people are, it is based on who God is. Human love is based on who people are but God’s love is based on His very nature and being to love – for God is love (1 John 4:16). Human love is conditional but God’s love is unconditional. God did not love us only when we were good or beautiful in His sight. While we were yet sinners, God loved us and Christ died for us (Romans 5:7, 8, 10). We were ugly, sinful, even enemies of God and yet He loved us and washed us clean and made us His children. If God has loved us in such a manner, surely we cannot love anyone with any lesser standard than that by which we have been loved. We need to love as God love and see as God sees. Don’t allow your human heart and human mind stop the agape love of God from flowing through you. Open your spirit heart and let the love of God flow through you. The first thing that took place when we were born again was that the shedding and overflowing of God’s love in our hearts (Romans 5:5). Let that love already placed within our heart help us to see beauty in ashes, hope in darkness and faith beyond impossibilities. Even in hell, the love of God cannot be stopped (Romans 8:38-39). The vilest creatures in hell are there not because God did not loved them, they are there because they did not receive the love of God so freely available to them. We are not able to love not because God could not love through us; rather we have shut our hearts from the love of God flowing through us (1 John 3:17).
4. Love is a commandment
Our Lord Jesus Christ did not suggest that we love one another; knowing our infirmities of human frailties, He made love a commandment (John 13:34-35). Like a loving Father who dispenses necessary medicine to a dying sick child (where the medicine does not taste nice), the Father commands that the medicine of love be continually dispensed because He knows that it is the only way for the child to be healed and whole. Likewise Jesus, knowing our natural dislike of people who are not good to us or ugly in character in our sight and our ease of not walking in unconditional love, placed before us a commandment to love one another the way He had loved us. The only other option is to walk in disobedience and not to love others. We have a choice to obey or to disobey and nothing in between. Everyone who does not walk in love is walking in disobedience! It is a commandment! Walking in love will bring all the blessings of the law because walking in love keeps every commandment of the Old Testament that produces the conditions for health, wealth and spiritual life (Deuteronomy 28:1-2; Romans 13:8-10). Christ has paid all the penalty of the law in order that His grace of blessings might come upon us (Romans 5:17; Galatians 3:14-15). The method by which all the blessings of Christ is received is through faith (Romans 4:16; 5:1). Yet why do so many Christians not receive all these blessings? Such blessings are not automatic; they are conditioned upon faith being energized by love (Galatians 5:6). God cannot force us to love Him nor can He force us to love one another. Love cannot be coerced. We must by free choice choose to love God and love one another! God can provide the power, the means and the method to enable us to love but we must choose to love. He does not rob us of the free choice to choose. God did provide us with the power to love for He has shed (Greek word – poured) His love into our hearts (Romans 5:5). God did provide the means to love, for He has given His Holy Spirit to empower us to love (Romans 5:5 – by the Holy Spirit given to us). God has provided us the method to love for He has given us all of us ministries and gifts by which we can serve and love one another (Ephesians 4:15-16).
Yes, all the ministries of God and every office and service of God available in the Body of Christ was purely given as a method by which we could expressed our life’s destiny in love towards God and others! They were not given that we might lord over one another but that we might live and die for one another (Matthew 20:25; Mark 10:42; Luke 22:25; 1 John 3:16). When the disciples fought with each other to be at the right hand of God and to be greater over one another, Jesus clearly stated that He Himself came not to be served but rather to serve and to give His life to others (Matthew 20:28). Sadly in our modern churches, ministries and offices have become positions of pride and pomp rather than that of servitude. We have become no better than the Pharisees who used their religious positions to better themselves and to enrich themselves. Woe to those who devour widows houses, exploit the poor, deceive the sheep and are lovers of money rather than lovers of God and people (Matthew 23:13-29; Luke 16:14). Jesus condemned all such to hell (Matthew 23:33). Those who neglect the love of God and true love towards all are neglecting the most important foundational and fundamental principle of Christianity. The greatest and most important of all the commandments of Jesus. Anyone who does not walk in love walks in darkness (1 John 3:14). The apostle John even went as far as to say that such do not even have eternal life in them (1 John 3:15). Not everyone who comes and say 『Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven for Jesus said that they have not done the Will of the Father (Matthew 7:21). The Will of God the Father and the Will of Jesus our Lord is that we love God and love one another. Anyone who says that they love God and does not love another is a liar for one who loves God truly love one another (1 John 4:20-21).
Beloved, let us love one another for love is of God and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God (1 John 4:7).
In His love.
王若琳 Joanna Wang – I Love You （陶喆「愛很簡單」英文版）
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