Advent Devotional 12/5: Love Like Jesus
““A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”” (John 13:34–35, NIV)
The past couple of devotionals, I've tried to help us be more prayerful, as that is the first step in the 8 Steps to 200. For the next couple of devotionals, we will address "loving one another well," which is step two.
Many of us know about the Great Commandment, which is to love God with our all and to love our neighbor as ourselves. But have you heard of the New Commandment? This was a command Jesus gave only to his disciples. In this command, he takes his church beyond loving neighbor as we love ourselves. The new standard for loving fellow Christians is not our own love, but Christ's love for us.
We love as we have been loved.
Perhaps we have had less than Christlike examples or experiences of love in our own lives. Some of us may have only known love that was highly conditional. Maybe our parents only showed us affection when we performed well in school or sports or some other activity. And so we learned that love is earned by high achievement. This is what drives some of us even today. We strive to achieve because our worth to others has always been based on performance. And we love others in the same conditional way.
God in Jesus Christ shows us a different kind of love.
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8, NIV)
In the love of God through Jesus Christ, we receive a love that is not conditioned on our performance. It is a love we did not earn. It is a love completely unattached to anything we can do or offer in return. While we were sinners, enemies of God, spiritual failures, Jesus loved us so much that he sacrificed his own life to save us.
And Jesus is saying, "now love each other like this."
The church that really reflects Christ is always known first and foremost by our love for one another. A church that loves one another well is a sign and testimony to the world of the reality of Jesus. This is the kind of church Kardia is called to be.
But we can only love as we have been loved. In order to become more loving toward one another, we must more completely allow ourselves to be loved by God. We may not feel worthy of such a love, but that is the whole point. We're not. But his love is ours if we receive it by faith. Would you let God love you completely, graciously, incomprehensibly, undeservedly and unconditionally today? And will you show the same love to your faith family?
Jesus, we confess that we still have such a long way to go in loving one another as you loved us. We repent of loving one another conditionally, meting out affection, acceptance or approval based on how well we perform. We repent of thinking that you love us like this.
I ask that you would pour out a blessing of love on me today, even right in this moment. You know everything about me, even the worst parts of me, and yet you still love me with an eternal, mighty, passionate love.
Jesus, you love us so much that you tore the heavens and came down. You got right there in the muck and mire with us. You bore our shame and suffering. You took our sins and you destroyed them with you in death. You gave your life so we could live. Even while we were your enemies, you loved us.
Help us to love like you, Jesus. Help us to love our enemies. Even more, help us to love our friends; patiently, unconditionally, sacrificially. Make us a church that is known for Christ-like love. If we fail at everything else, Lord, we must not fail to love one another.
Help us to know concretely, without a shadow of a doubt, that you love us. We ask for a real experience of your presence and friendship. Jesus, we love you.
In your name we pray, Amen.