“Loving One Another”
“No way! Had he really written that?” My pulse quickened as I read the email. It was written by a coworker, missionary, and brother in Christ. I had been working on a brochure design for him. He didn’t like my design. I figured this out not because he told me directly, but because he decided to send a group email to our fellow coworkers. In the message he expressed that he had assumed since I had a background in graphic design, that I would have some artistic talent, but unfortunately, I did not. Ouch! I probably never would have known about his comment, except for the fact that he had forgotten my email address was in the same group to whom he had sent the message. That meant I got it, too. Oops. I was hurt, offended, and most of all I was furious. I wanted to lash out, defend myself, and let this guy know all the ways he lacked talent, including sending group emails! If I were comic book character Bruce Banner, I would have been in full-on Hulk mode! Thankfully both my sweet, loving wife and a mature, godly brother in Christ talked me down from my anger and offered wise council.
I ended up doing the very last thing I wanted to do. I faced this brother, accepted his apology, and even completed the project I had committed to help him with. I’d be lying if I said I did it joyfully. I’d be lying if I told you I believed he was genuinely sorry for what he’d written, not just sorry that he’d been caught. But that was between him and God. I did what I felt was the God-honoring, loving thing to do. But man, was it was hard! Some people are tough to love including, and maybe especially, our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. It is essential that we do so, however, because Jesus commanded it. And if we’re brutally honest with ourselves, we all can all be tough to love at times, too.
At the last supper in John 13:34 Jesus tells His disciples, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” Notice the context. Judas has just left to sell Jesus out to those who wished to kill Him. Right after this, Peter pledged his unfailing devotion to Jesus even to death. Yet Jesus knew that Peter would deny Him three times before morning and the other disciples would scatter. Jesus doesn’t give the command to love one another at a time when He was receiving a whole lot of love! He gave this command in the midst of betrayal, denial, and abandonment. Jesus knows better than anyone that loving one another can be tough. Why should we be surprised when it is difficult for us? People disappoint us, quit on us, bully us, even betray us, yet we are commanded to love one another. Why? John 13:35 tells us,“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” It’s easy to love people we get along with and who think the same way we do. Anyone can do that. But loving others when it is tough, when they have wronged us, and when it makes no sense? That is how the lost world around us knows we are different. Our love for one another should point people to Jesus.
Love one another,