The second of the two commandments Jesus said summed up the Law and the Prophets is love your neighbor as yourself. This is another way we follow Jesus. In John 15, Jesus gave a new command. He said we were to love our brothers and sisters as he loved us.
The love that Jesus commands us to practice is a love that puts others first. It is a love that sacrifices for others, even to the point of laying down our lives. It is a love that does the same for others that Jesus did for us.
One of the primary reasons the early church turned the world upside down was their love, for each other and for their neighbors. The first Christians were well known for the way they cared for their brothers and sisters and the way they looked past social, racial, and other differences to form a family with God as their Father. They were also known for caring for their neighbors, often putting themselves at risk. No matter what else was said about the early followers of Jesus, it was obvious that they loved others in a way far different from the culture around them.
It seems as if those who of us who call ourselves followers of Jesus are known more for what we are against and our fighting than for our love for others. We seem to be quite willing to forget the command to lay down our lives in exchange for what we think is power and influence. At times our worship seems to be more about ourselves than about the One who gave his life for us. The things that capture our imaginations are many times antithetical to the Kingdom and are self-centered instead of others-centered.
Loving others as Jesus loved us means giving up our "rights," our interests, our wants, for the good of others. While we may be willing to step in front of a bullet for someone, how willing are we to give up our time, comfort, or possessions? How willing are we to essentially become nothing so that Christ might be glorified and others benefited?
Following Jesus can be distilled into two commands. We love God with every fiber of our being, and we love others. Everything thing else flows from that. It is not an easy thing to do. In fact, it is impossible if we try to do it in our own strength. If we belong to Jesus, we have his Spirit in us giving us the ability to love as we are called to love.
May we again be known for our love.
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