Who do you love?

John 13:31-35
The call to love is at the heart of who and what God calls the church to be.

It should be difficult to attend a Christian worship gathering or Bible study, for example, and not hear something about the love of God. All conversation about doctrine and religious practice has to stem from our understanding of love. Love drives the way we interact with one another. And love forms the character of the church.

If you happen to leave a Christian gathering without the prompt to reflect on some aspect of God’s love, I’d ask why. What was more important that day?

Jesus made sure his disciples heard it before his arrest. He told them with his words. And he offered a shocking foot-washing demonstration. We tend to remember the last words we share with people. When someone dies, it’s almost automatic to think of the last time you saw them. You recall what you were talking about and what they said. So, what was the overriding theme Jesus wanted to impress upon his followers one last time?


We already know Jesus thought the greatest commandment was to love God, and to love your neighbor was just as important. Now, he presses the issue further. So much, in fact, that he says, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Some churches want to be known for their lively worship. Some want to stake their reputation on their tradition. Others would be okay to not be known at all. None of that means much of anything without the foundation of the love of God. If we’re thinking construction, then the foundation and whole structure needs to be built on love. It is to be our most distinguishing quality.

One question that arises within this conversation is who do we love? In a way, we ask the same question, Who is my neighbor (Luke 10:25-37)?

Yes, we’re still trying to narrow down who we are to love. One extreme idea that comes out of that says our sense of love doesn’t apply to non-Christians. That when the Bible mentions acts of love and compassion, it’s meant to demonstrate how we interact with people of faith. When Jesus says, the idea goes, that you have love “for one another,” he only meant you and your church.

I wholeheartedly reject that notion. 

If we’re only willing to share the love of God with people who are like us, we don’t understand the scope of God’s love. An insider-only notion of the love of God is not the love of God. “But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). We weren’t on the inside when God first offered love to us.

To be sure, non-Christians know how to love. Our understanding, though, is different. It’s based on the reality of God and God’s kingdom. Its call surpasses mere emotion and congeniality. And it’s not only something we do. It’s a part of everything we are.

God was willing to show the entire world what love really looks like. Now, as Jesus followers, we get to do the same thing. It’s who we are.

Stay blessed…john

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John Fletcher

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