Just before His crucifixion, Jesus identified a key mark of discipleship. He gave what He called, “a new commandment” (John 13:34). It is a command to “love one another”, and He expressed, “by this all will know” who are His disciples (John 13:34-35). However, do we know what kind of love that is and do we demonstrate it?
Even though the Old Testament Scriptures required a love for one’s neighbor as self-
(Lev. 19:13,18), this new command is a call to a higher standard because it is exemplified by Jesus Christ Himself. His love can be summarized in one word: sacrificial, just as He explained in John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” Our Lord demonstrated this new kind of love by laying down His life willingly for us (John 10:17-18), and we must be willing to demonstrate that same kind of love (1 John 3:16-18).
Additionally, this new command is to be a visible love, by which “all will know that [we] are [His] disciples” (John 13:35). When we are assembled and have guests, what do they see? Do they see an evident love and concern for one another? Our assemblies may be the only time they have the opportunity to see Christians interact. But also, this love goes beyond the walls of the church building. It extends beyond the few hours we are assembled together. Truly, the world needs to have the opportunity to see Christians in action. Therefore, being a “warm and friendly church” while assembled is commendable, but it alone does not fulfill the command to have a new, sacrificial, and visible love patterned after the love of Jesus!
Brethren, our Lord Jesus Christ has revealed a powerful tool to persuade the world that we are His disciples. Certainly, we show our discipleship by faithfulness to His doctrine (John 8:32), but in a world that cares little for doctrinal distinctiveness, a Christ-like love for one another is how we convince the world! How is your love for your brethren in Christ? If you admit your love for your brethren needs work, then look to God and Jesus as the ultimate teachers of what it means to love.