It has always been meaningful for me that at the very end of Jesus’ earthly ministry he repeats three times (John 13:34-35, 15:12, and 15:17) that he is giving his followers a new commandment: “Love each other.” This is a very significant commandment that Jesus is giving and I think the church has struggled with it for almost the entire 2,000 years since Jesus gave it. Jesus understood from the very beginning when calling his disciples that they were different people with different backgrounds, different views of the world, etc, etc. Jesus knew these 12 Apostles and 120 followers were going to struggle to believe in anything in unison, but they could commit to love in unison…. Even in the midsts of differing views of the world around them.
When I entered into ministry it took me about a week to realize that wherever I was going to serve as a pastor there would be a group of people who believe different things than I believe in (even though we may all be of the same denomination) and that they would believe in different things than each other believe in. This is why there are over 33,000 Christian denominations in the world today—everyone wants to find the group of people who believe just like they do. The path of division is the easy path but its not the path that reveals Jesus to the world around. When we commit to love and to stay in community with those who believe differently than we do we are truly at the place of living out Christ in the world around us.
As you read the story today, think about this commandment to love and then ask yourself how you have lived this out well and where you have failed.
Read: John 13:21-38
Questions to Consider: John 13:33-35
- Think about the contrast between Judas and Peter in your story. One went out into the night, while the other stayed focused on Jesus. Then ask yourself if Jesus love each of them? What is the significance of this love?
- How does the disciples love prove to the world that they are Jesus’ disciples?
So What Activity: Take time to think about how you love others within your Church and then journal how you have done this well and where you have struggled. If need be, take time to repent for where you have put things in the path of love.
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