To love one another, as Jesus defines love, is the distinctive feature of Christianity. It is not reproducible by the world. Jesus said that this love is “new.” Although love is displayed and commanded throughout the Old Testament, the New Testament love that Jesus spoke of is distinctive in several ways. In Christ, we have a new model of love. Jesus showed a servant-love that went well beyond non-retaliation toward others to actually serving enemies. Furthermore, Christian love has a new motive of loving because we have been loved by Jesus, demonstrated through the cross. We also have a new motivator, the Holy Spirit, who teaches us and energizes for a new mission: world evangelization.
Since Jesus let us know that our mission hinges on the ability to love with Christ’s own love, we must grasp the reality that love is not optional, but absolutely vital. The way in which we treat one another in the Body of Christ is fundamental to mission. The medieval mystic, St. John of the Cross, said that “mission is putting love where love is not.” Love is entering into another person’s life with service and meeting needs in a manner that emulates the character of Christ.
Therefore, Christianity is not about “me.” It is about others. The church is the one institution on earth that doesn’t exist to promote itself, but to bless the world. Whatever we must do in order to love people to Jesus is what we need to do, period. Take some time today and meditate on these words of Jesus from the Gospel of John, and see what the Holy Spirit works inside you. Then, share it with another and seek to do it with all the love that God gives you.
Loving God, you demonstrated your great love by sending your Son on my behalf. Help me to live and love like Jesus in all I say and do so that Christ’s Church is built up in the faith, and the world is blessed. Amen.