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The “New” Commandment?

04 Jan

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
(John 13:34-35 ESV)

Do you find it a bit odd that Jesus referred to the command to: “love one-another as I have loved you” as “new?” Didn’t he tell a Pharisee that that the greatest commandment in the law, which in their day had been around for roughly 1,600 years, was to love God and to love one’s neighbor as oneself?  I was a bit confused by this, so I looked closer, and saw that the word “new” in the Greek actually means something closer to “fresh.”  Jesus “new” commandment wasn’t new in the sense that it had never been heard of before, but it was new in the sense of being fresh, timely, invigorated.  I believe Jesus intention was to reintroduce and revitalize something that had been set aside, forgotten, and become stale. This forgotten, stale thing was the beauty, centrality and necessity of love.  It appears that above all else, as he was leaving earth, Jesus wanted his followers to know clearly that IF they would love one-another, then people would recognize that they, like he, were walking as manifested and obedient sons and daughters of God – in other words, his disciples.

As all answers tend to do, this raises more questions.  The first question that comes to mind is why Jesus specifically chose to emphasize love above everything else, like hell or holiness or prayer or witnessing?  Love must be of the utmost importance, especially when you consider that this was essentially Jesus’ final exhortation to his followers.  I believe the answer to this is first and foremost that Jesus emphasized love because he wanted his Father to be known, and love is the love is the true nature/essence of God, a nature which had become obscured and forgotten over the centuries, largely due to the ruthlessness of the law, which is another subject itself.  Not being connected to law, the new covenant enables and encourages authenticity and inward spiritual reality, not outward piety or rigid rules that result in hypocrisy and self-righteousness.  The second reason I believe Jesus emphasized love is because he knew that without it, the church/body of Christ would quickly begin to divide against and attack itself, becoming inept, blind, hypocritical and hardened, which is sadly what has happened, to the great detriment of the expression of the Kingdom of God/Heaven on the earth.  

I’ve said this any number of times, but while most of us would agree that love is vitally important, we really don’t realize or appreciate how radical genuine love is.  Love is just as different from religion’s rules and constraints as it is from hedonism’s pursuits and excesses.  Love doesn’t fit well into categories, as it is not for or against anything, but is simply grounded in the fact that Christ has reconciled all things.  Love steadfastly waits until the reality of this is fully manifested.  Love is pictured very well in the life of Jesus, who was merciful and kind toward those who religion had rejected or wounded, but was very harsh toward the self-righteous, who with hardened hearts laid burdens on others and misconstrued the true nature of God.  The suffering that accompanies love is largely because love is immovable, neither compromising truth, nor coercing or demanding its own way. Love remains patient in the midst of suffering, repaying good for evil and looking past the fearful ignorance of men, which unfortunately remains the foundation of most of what we see in the world today.

So, I suppose my point is that those who are Christ’s should realize that in his own words, love is absolutely necessary for believers to have toward one-another.  Love is THE fresh commandment Jesus gave to his followers, then and now.  Love is so vital because without it, the body of Christ will remain sick and the Kingdom cannot be expressed on earth.  IF this is so, it is of the utmost importance that we be sure, as John wrote, not to merely SAY we love, or merely BELIEVE in love, but to let the Spirit of Love penetrate us, permeating our perceptions until it is naturally the driving force behind our actions. This might mean reconciling with an enemy, or asking forgiveness when the other side won’t. It might mean getting rid of possessions we are fond of in order to help another who has less. It could mean showing mercy to someone who continually screws up and is extremely frustrating and disappointing. It could mean speaking truth when the consequences will be severe. It can mean joining, leaving, staying, going, and innumerable other things.  Let’s simply let love have it’s way, realizing that it is the way of Christ. I believe that as we do, the Spirit will be with us and new, fresh manifestations of Life will begin to be seen on earth!  I have written many other posts about love, so I would encourage you to look them up using the right sidebar if you are interested.  God bless you.

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2 Comments

Posted by on January 4, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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2 responses to “The “New” Commandment?

  1. DoneWithReligion

    January 5, 2017 at 1:07 pm

    Such a good article. God is love and as followers of Jesus, we should show the same love to everyone. Yet how can we do this? You hit the nail on the head with your statement, “let the Spirit of Love penetrate us, permeating our perceptions until it is naturally the driving force behind our actions”. We cannot do it apart from the Spirit living within us.

     
    • firstthekingdom

      January 6, 2017 at 11:44 am

      Thanks for the comment and reblog! Bless you. I believe the Spirit is within every believer, maybe even every person, we just simply need to heed it…

       

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