I’ve found myself meditating on love quite a bit lately. About a month ago around the time that I posted the Beatles video, I felt the issue of love (or lack of it) in the Body of Christ came into sharp focus for me.
I had been meditating on a number of painful events I had experienced in different communities of faith, which had resulted in many wandering from their faith, including in each case triggering a “crisis of faith” in my own heart. The events were so different that I had a hard time finding a common thread. One was a church split, the others were not. Some were attacks against leaders, some were leaders abusing people. Some were in institutional settings, at least one was not. As I considered each of these events, it seemed that none of the teachings I have heard about how to avoid such problems seemed to answer every one of these situations, and yet they seemed tied together by a common effect, which was wavering faith in the hearts of believers. Interestingly, in some cases those who struggled the most were not necessarily those being attacked or abused, even those on the “sidelines” seemed to suffer. Why was this I wondered? And if there was a common effect, might the cause in all these disparate events be the same?
Which led me to Jesus’ compelling words:
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:34-35
Then it hit me: Jesus said “all men” which includes me! “All men” includes not only those outside the community of faith, but those inside it as well. In other words, our own confidence as his disciples is directly affected by our love for one another. When we don’t love one another, we are not only affecting the person or persons we have the direct conflict with, others in our community of faith may end up casualties as well.
As if to drive this point home, I recently realized more deeply the context of Jesus words when he gave this command: Jesus had just spoken of his own betrayal, and Judas had just departed to sell Jesus’ life for 30 pieces of silver (John 13:20-30). As Jesus felt the aching pain of betrayal and impending accusations, he plead with his disciples “Love one another!” He is still pleading today. After 2000 years of church history, the most important command of all is still neglected. How can this be?
So for me, these recent reflections have put Jesus’ love into sharp focus. As Paul so eloquently expounded in 1 Corinthians 13, everything else counts as absolutely nothing without it.
“Beloved, let us love one another…” – 1 John 4:7